Well, Election 2012 is finally over. Thank Thor. I don't think I could have taken much more campaigning.
While casting my ballot yesterday it occurred to me that the voting process in this country is severely broken. I'm not talking about the Electoral College, although that arcane and convoluted system is indeed in need of an overhaul. No, I'm talking about the fact that the future of the country is decided by citizens-- myself included-- who have no idea what the hell they're doing.
Most people know a bit about the presidential candidates, and... that's pretty much it. After that there's a dizzying list of congressmen, senators, judges and other officials who no one has ever heard of. If you're like me, you have no idea who any of these people are, what they stand for or what they plan to do if elected. You then vote for them based entirely on the acceptability or stupidity of their names. Congratulations, Jonathan Hampton III! You're elected! Sorry, Mervin Throbwilter. Back under the bridge with you!
God forbid they ever place the candidates' photos next to their names. Can you imagine? "Oh, he's dreamy! I'm voting for him!" Or "That woman looks like my shrew of an ex-wife! She's not getting my vote!" Let's hope whoever makes out the ballots never gets that bright idea.
Then there's the invariable list of propositions and other questions at the end of the ballot. "Should Chauncy Endtable be retained as circuit court judge? Yes or no?" How the hell do I know? Did he do something really awful and that's why his job's on the line? Does he just not feel like going to all the trouble of campaigning and wants us to keep him in office? Who knows? I've never heard of the guy. I'll decide based on something scientific, such as yes if the person on my right is a male and no if female.
What a preposterous and irresponsible way to pick our leaders.
I consider myself fairly well informed but I don't know any of these names or issues on the ballot. I've got a job, a mortgage and I'm CEO here at Bob Canada's BlogWorld. I ain't got time to research this crap! If I don't have time then I know that 99% of the rest of the population doesn't either. So we're all just clueless peasants deciding the future of our communities and our country based purely on whim. No wonder our nation's so messed up.
I don't really have an answer to this dilemma. Maybe each voter should be quizzed by election officials before being turned loose to vote. Each citizen would be asked a few simple questions about a candidate or proposition and if they can't answer them, then they don't get to vote. Of course that would result in election returns that resemble soccer scores, but... it might be better than the coin-flipping that goes on now.