You’re Doing it Wrong

24 09 2010

I was at the gym yesterday, minding my own business, when the TV put up the headline, “Palin to run for President?” and a talking head was (quite literally) talking away about why that idea isn’t insane.  After I dropped a very heavy weight on my friend’s foot, I stood in silence, staring at the TV.  I didn’t know whether to laugh, or cry.  I mean…that can’t be right, can it?

But then I thought about the recent strength of the TEA party movement.  Sarah Palin can say just about anything she wants (including repeatedly mentioning President Obama’s middle name, as if that’s something new) and provide countless examples of her own stupidity (when asked who her favorite founder was by Glenn Beck, Palin responded, “You know, all of them”) and people apparently still rally around her.  Republican primaries across the US are becoming struggles between the incumbent and a TEA party upstart.  

But here is my real problem: I don’t know where the rest of the US population falls on this, or almost any other issue.  Some are saying the TEA party is a pretty isolated movement, and it’s the broadcast media that is turning it into a phenomenon.  Tune in to Fox News, and you hear how well the Republicans are doing and how strong the Glenn Beck rally is.  Turn on MSNBC, exact opposite – while the Democrats aren’t strong, the Republicans are a mess.  Both channels say they are in tune with the American people, both stations conduct polls, different results.  My solution: we have the Internet.  We don’t need to conduct “extrapolation” polls on ridiculous scales anymore (interview 1,000 people, extrapolate to the country).

So here’s what it looks like: every township in America gets a “voting station” at their Town Hall.  Voting station consists of a polling machine, fully encrypted and where possible, hard-wired.  Also a bank of computers set up specifically to give people access to information on what is currently up for vote in Houses of Legislature, major crises affecting the country, etc.  I want everyone to have the ability to be as informed as possible.  Then, if the population wants to, they should provide their opinion on it.  Votes occur once a month, the White House or some other independent body (NPR) reports them.

If people don’t want to travel to the voting station, and they have home Internet, then set up a .gov site with heavy security and allow people to enter their Social Security #s to vote.  I’m just sick of the TV media making blanket statements for the nation when we have the ability to actually find out what people think.  The problem with elections is, they are so infrequent, people never make a ‘habit’ of voting.  So when you ask someone on a specific day to vote, you are likely to get the response, “Oh really, that’s what day it is?  Shoot I have a hair appointment that afternoon.”  If the population got in the habit of making their opinions heard, I believe we’d see more voter turnout and increased knowledge on the key issues.  

I’d imagine one of the responses I’d get to this idea is, “but Jeff, what about the population that doesn’t care to vote, or votes ignorant?”  Well, that’s America.  If the majority of the population votes one way, that should be the way it is decided.  And if the majority of voters in a certain state vote one way, and their representative doesn’t vote in support (no matter what Party) they should be out.  At least it would be easier to keep track of their votes against popular sentiment.  I realize there are some key times when a representative must vote in what they believe is right.  Then give the representative the chance to explain why they voted against their constituent’s wishes.  Who knows, maybe they will be convinced.

It’s possible Sarah Palin might be the worst thing to ever happen to American politics.  That’s possible.  But if the majority of Americans side with her on the issues, I want to know about it now so I can move.  I hear Brazil is nice.

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