How informed are we?

September 16, 2008

I’m headed to the voting booth in about an hour and I’m discouraged and amazed at the same time. Not because we live in a great country that allows us to voice our opinions by voting. Not because I am free to hop on my scooter and vote with a minimum of fuss and red tape.

I’m amazed and discouraged that someone like me – a professional journalist and self-proclaimed genius – is so ill-informed about today’s election. Essentially, my main reason for going to vote isn’t to exercise my rights, it’s to find out what the issues are and to see if I can learn something about my community, region and state through the info posted on the ballot.

Today’s election isn’t for the Presidency or any major Senate seats (I think), but it could be a primary of some sort and it could decide certain municipal issues.

The stuff I hope this election addresses are myriad and related to my life. I don’t care much about environmental issues because I think recycling wastes more energy than it saves. But I certainly care about traffic enforcement, maintaining a level playing field for communications and access providers (e.g. making it illegal for one company to hold a town hostage as the only local cable company or phone service provider), limiting cell phone firms’ ability to jack up rates and lock people into plans*, and educating cyclists, pedestrians and scooter operators that the laws of the road apply to them as well as to cars.

When it comes to government matters, I get my information in a bunch of ways. I read the papers, I listen to the news, I subscribe to podcasts, and I search the Internet. And I’m pretty sure I’m only touching the tip of the iceberg. How in the world can I be qualified to decide who is our best next leader?

I can see where some candidates might have gaping holes in their resume (Palin’s kid being pregnant out of wedlock, Palin thinking Alaska borders Russia, Palin thinking the Georgian conflict was unprovoked. Hmm, maybe I just don’t like Palin), but I don’t have any idea what goes on behind the doors of our democracy when big decisions are being made.

Does George Bush make everyone hold hands and pray? Will Obama as president put too much faith in his advisers?

So, as I hop on the scooter and get ready to vote, I bear in mind one thought. At least I’m not basing my decision on who is the best candidate by wondering if they’d be fun at a bar or interesting at the dinner table. I want my next leader to have the interests of the country in mind when he or she takes office.

And I’m part of that country. Today I’m going to prove it with just one vote.

*A recent California court ruled that termination fees levied by cell companies were illegal. I’ll follow that story for you as it unfolds. But wouldn’t it be an even better country if you could change providers at will and wield some of your own power instead of being raped for $.49 a minute?

Keep reading!