The bitter irony of Obama’s victory
In the months leading up to Nov. 4, the media relished in reporting that Barack Obama had inspired legions of liberal Americans to register to vote for the first time, and others to come out of their shell who had not voted in recent memory. What wasn’t widely reported was that a good number of Obama’s army had a limited knowledge of the candidate and his views, and simply planned to vote for the man because he was black, or young or Democrat.
Evidence of this problem surfaced earlier this fall when radio shock jock Howard Stern sent a reporter to Harlem to conduct experimental polling.
Every person interviewed by Stern’s minion said they planned to vote for Obama. That said, the reporter then asked questions in which he assigned John McCain’s views and actions to Mr. Obama. Example: “So you’re okay with Obama picking Sarah Palin as his running mate?” “Yes” came the common reply. Example: “Are you voting for Obama because he wants to keep our troops in Iraq?” Again, the reply was “Yes.”
To be fair, Stern’s exercise could have also netted similar results in any number of white neighborhoods in the South, where ignorant Caucasian McCain voters think that thespians are gay women. In fact, CNN’s data collectors made frequent references to how McCain was leading among non college graduates and rural voters. That’s elite journalism code for “white trash.”
At the same time, the mainstream media was ever vigilant in advocating for potential Obama voters and feigned outrage whenever they learned of so-called scandals, like the one that occurred in Virginia just days before the election. It seems that someone (or some group) distributed bogus government fliers to heavily democratic neighborhoods, telling residents that, due to an expectation of high voter turnout, only Republicans would be allowed to vote on Tuesday, and Democrats on Wednesday. That the state police had to investigate this prank is indicative of a society which has grown so dumb that the government is compelled to protect them from acting on their ignorance.
I’m sorry, but anyone who would have fallen for that flier scam doesn’t deserve to vote. And that brings me to the irony of Obama’s great victory.
His campaign was all about change. It was all about needing to undo the damage done by George Bush over the past eight years.
Yet Obama was elected, in part, by people whose ignorance or apathy had kept them away from the polls in the past. Some of these stupid, lazy people (whites and blacks, young and old) who have suddenly been energized to get engaged in politics could have showed up to vote in 2000, and we would have never invaded Iraq. We would have never left thousands of victims stranded after Katrina. We would have never trampled on due process or right to privacy, and we would have never let Wall Street cronies nearly bankrupt our nation. Instead, these new Obamaites stayed home in 2000 and 2004 and are, therefore, indirectly responsible for the disasters that Bush wrought.
But there’s plenty of blame to go around for the failures of the past eight years. GOP congressmen, for example, had the chance to join with Democrats who wanted to impeach Bush. Instead, they stuck by their president — that is, until his popularity dropped below that of a sex offender, at which time those same loyal congressmen distanced themselves from Bush in hopes of getting re-elected.
Anyway, I seldom rant without offering a solution, so here’s my two-point plan for reforming the election process. First, I would abolish the practice of straight-party voting. Under my plan, voting machines would no longer provide a lever or card option which would allow people to blindly vote the straight party ticket. This option promotes ignorance. And that brings me to point number two.
On Election Day, immediately following sign-in and identification, the poll worker would administer a simple written test to the voter. The test would consist of four questions:
1. Who is the governor of this state?
2. Name one of our two United States senators.
3. Who is your congressman?
4. Who is your mayor?
All questions must be answered correctly or else the person would be sent home without being able to vote until the next election. No partisan volunteer standing outside the polls would be allowed to distribute ballot facsimiles, nor would they be allowed to give out answers to the new, four-part civics quiz.
I have high hopes for President Obama. I hope that he flip-flops back to his original pledge to end the war in Iraq immediately. I hope that he flip-flops back to his earlier promise to pass universal healthcare for all Americans. And I hope that his cabinet selections reflect change (so far he’s failed in that regard by picking Joe Biden as his VP and Democrat attack dog Rahm Emanuel as chief of staff). But unless we can start to require our electorate to be educated, then Obama’s victory rings hollow. Maybe we’ll get lucky with Barack, and it won’t matter that many of his supporters don’t know feces from shinola, or that his win was easy because his opponent was so angry and out of touch.
But we can’t afford to sit back and hope that stupid people will continue to luck into good decisions. After all, it was stupid people who voted for George Bush.
That’s why we must reform the voting system now. It’s change we need.
Jim Longworth is the host of “Triad Today,” airing on Fridays at 6:30 a.m. on ABC 45 (cable channel 7) and Sundays at 10 p.m. on WMYV (cable channel 15).