The San Jose City Lights production of “44 plays for 44 Presidents” is terrific for political hacks, history majors and local political wannabes. It is engaging, poignant and most people will learn something new of the Presidency. But—**spoiler alert**—the ending does encourage everyone to register and vote. In the spirit of democracy, I respectfully disagree.
While there is no doubt that everyone has a right to vote and no one should be denied that right to exercise their franchise, the choice of voting should be left to the individual. Some people, in fact, should never vote. They are the ignorant, the unreasonable, the woefully misinformed and the truly undecided voter. They should be encouraged to exercise their freedom and their right not to vote.
At this point, some Republican friends are going to expect a partisan attack on their belief system. But this is not about people who have a different, misguided philosophy; it is about stupid people, folks who are so unwilling to engage in their democracy that they can find no difference between the candidates or those who think the President is a Muslim or that Mitt Romney will cede power to the Mormon Church. This is about the person who votes for Romney because he “has better hair” or for President Obama because he “looks better with his shirt off.”
The reason these people shouldn’t vote is that in close elections, they actually make a difference. That’s right, our next President could be elected because he has “nice hair.” And not only at the national level, but at state and local levels the ignorant do far more damage.
The dirty secret is that California’s fiscal problems are due to voters—not the legislature. But nobody wants to blame themselves. Our education problems are due to voters, because we have 1,039 local school districts. Yet one district, LA Unified, has 1/3 of the students in the state.
Local control is a buzz word adopted by conservatives, but how many people know who their school board members are? Yet they voted for them. Throw in ill-conceived, albeit fondly worded state initiatives, bond measures, parcel taxes, new political entities, and the ever-popular no new tax laws, and you have created a system that is ungovernable. But, hey, you voted for it. It’s your fault.
So, this election, be reasonable. Vote if you understand the candidate or issue. If you don’t, leave it blank. You will be doing your country and local community a favor by simply not voting. Let the people who know something about the candidates and the issues vote.
Finally, if you have an informed opinion—regardless of philosophy—please vote. But stay home if you can’t decide whom to vote for President after two years of campaigning. As John Kennedy said, “The ignorance of one voter in a democracy impairs the security of all.”
Rich Robinson is a political consultant in Silicon Valley.