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RE: (jcwren) RE: Of Dead Trees and Democracy

by brainpan (Monk)
on Nov 10, 2000 at 18:27 UTC ( #40942=note: print w/replies, xml ) Need Help??


in reply to (jcwren) RE: Of Dead Trees and Democracy
in thread Of Dead Trees and Democracy

Thanks for the reply. Your points are well taken. Having some tangible record of voting would indeed be an enormous benefit of the current system; coincidentally all of the things that make it unwieldy are also functions of it's tangibility :/.

Overall I would tend to agree with you, however it's worth pointing out that voting on your tax return violates both the anonymous vote (offhand I can't find where that guaranteed), and infringes on the rights of many legally qualified voters as prescribed by Amendment 14, Section 2 of the Constitution: the right of any voter shall not be "... in any way abridged, except for participation in rebellion, or other crime..." etc., etc.. As you say, voting on your tax return would tend to exclude many people. If we're going to start infringing on people's rights to vote, I propose that we start with a basic civics test, mandatory with every ballot cast; anyone scoring below 85% has their votes automatically piped to /dev/null (or /dev/landfill, if we're still using paper ballots).

And no, I don't own 27 pairs of sweatpants.
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RE: RE: (jcwren) RE: Of Dead Trees and Democracy
by TStanley (Canon) on Nov 10, 2000 at 19:30 UTC
    The civics test wouldn't be a bad idea, except now days, I don't that enough people could
    actually pass the test, even if you set the minimum score at 70%. If you don't believe that,
    watch the "Jaywalking" part of the Late Show with Jay Leno. He asks people some very simple
    questions, and they fail horribly. It boils down to the simple fact that a good majority of
    do not care anymore. Please understand that this is merely my opinion, because there are a lot
    of people who do care to do their civic duty, and they try to make an informed and rational decision.

    TStanley
    There can be only one!
      While I'm not about to contest either that the average American isn't wildly ignorant (either in general or as it relates to government), or that apathy isn't rampant (how could I with only 50% voter turnout?), in fairness, Jaywalking can't be construed as a measure of the intelligence of much more than the most vacant minded people that Jay could find roaming the streets on any given day. If you'll notice, they'll generally show clips with the backdrop ranging from broad daylight to darkness within the same Jaywalking session; that's a lot of editing down to get only the "best" idiots. And they do play only the best idiots with only the stupidest questions. Case in point: once they did a session with questions about something moderately intelligent (names of Canadian provinces & their capital cities). I'm probably not going to win any points for I.Q. here, but I don't know what the capital city of most Canadian provinces / territories is offhand. Consequently, I did about as well as the Jaywalking contestants did. I didn't find that session very funny. The point I'm trying to make here is that lowest common denominator entertainment like Jaywalking, Dumb and Dumber, etc., is only funny because it allows you to revel in your "superior intelligence", just as Jerry Springer and his ilk are popular because it makes the, shall we say, "less elegant" aspects of our society feel like their lives aren't that bad after all. When Jay's questions are reasonable and you still can't do any better than the fools you're supposed to be mocking, that's when you need to worry.

      And just as you end a sub print "0 but true\n"; so that it'll eval correctly, I'll end this post by again invoking, "I do agree with you, but Jaywalking is a bad example".

      Oh, and I trust that calling Leno's program "The Late Show" is a subtle jab at the reader's intelligence, as his is "The Tonight Show". :)

      And no, I don't own 27 pairs of sweatpants.
RE: (jcwren) RE: Of Dead Trees and Democracy
by lemming (Priest) on Nov 10, 2000 at 20:58 UTC
    The problem with a civics test is that there were "civics" tests in some areas of the south to keep blacks from voting.
    You'd have to fix the schools before this could even be attempted.
    And yes, some people's lack of knowledge appalls me.
    Anecdote: "That looks like something Jacqueline Kennedy would of worn"
    "Who's she?"
    It devolved from there.
      Well, who is Jacqueline Kennedy? :)

      To their credit though, knowing who Jacqueline Kennedy is is less of a civics thing and more of a (ducking, knowing this may not be popular) history factiod.

      And no, I don't own 27 pairs of sweatpants.
RE: RE: (jcwren) RE: Of Dead Trees and Democracy
by Albannach (Prior) on Nov 10, 2000 at 19:42 UTC
    While I completely agree that all citizens should have a good knowledge of the workings of their government, to be realistic in an age when millions of Americans (and Canadians I'll admit) are functionally illiterate, do they really need to know (Warning: stupid example meant to offend the fewest readers possible, else I would have mentioned gun control) the text of the constitution to know they don't want their neighbours collecting live WWII munitions in their basement?
      I don't see why a "civics" test needs to be about the test of the constitution or even about how the government works at all. It could be stuff like1 "Where does the Republican Party stand on taxation?" "What party is Harry Browne?" "Which party wants to extend the Clean Air Act to cover cow flatulence?"

      A coworker (a Libertarian, for reference), suggests that the first thing he'd like to see is: on the ballot, no parties are listed. You'd just have the names, and you'd just have to know who the people you wanted to vote for were. It sounds like a reasonable first step to me.

      1 I'm just pulling these examples out of my... head. yeah, out of my head.
        That would be a better (more practical) civics test I agree, but who would create it? That would be almost as big a battle as the election I'm sure. It's much worse up here than in the U.S. where there are 5 main parties (depending...) and they all have slightly different views on key issues, to the point that they are spending more time on trying to define their positions than defend them. Asking Joe Public what a given party's position and getting an answer you (who?) could grade would be very difficult indeed.

        I'd also have to disagree with your friend, though I see the point I think. Maybe we're running into fundamental difference between our systems of government, but what an individual candidate thinks on anything beyond very local issues is almost meaningless in the face of his/her party position, as members are all expected to vote with the party in the House. Consequently, knowing your member's name is fairly pointless, but knowing their party's platform is important. There is a move up here to get party logos on the ballot to make the distinction even clearer.

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