Celebrities and activists are encouraging everyone to vote as a right and moral duty. But I’d be perfectly happy if the bigots who figure that if Trump wins we can turn the clock back to a world where they can freely beat up minorities without being punished would stay home, drink beer and watch sports. (yes, my own prejudices are showing.) But why are some people less likely to understand the implications of what the election means? I figure I’ll share my perspective, and let anyone who wants point out the flaws in my argument.
When our forefathers created this country and decided to turn over the leadership to the people they were worried that the farmers and craftsmen and shopkeepers wouldn’t have enough information to vote intelligently, so they decided to make free education available. If everyone was literate, they could read papers even if they couldn’t attend debates and see the candidates themselves, and their votes would be informed. Given this amazing right to choose, who wouldn’t be eager to inform themselves? First it took a while to set it up (after all, taking those kids out of the homes and shops meant a huge loss of free labor). Within a few generations the people hiring the young people when they got out of school started influencing the school leaders to get them to produce the kind of workers they wanted, and as we all know, factory workers don’t need critical thinking skills, and education went downhill from there.
People haven’t really changed in the last 250 years, but the institutions we’ve created have. Big Business, Big Agriculture, Big Politics, Big Medicine, Big Education. When you make something bigger, you put control in the hands of those at the top, who tend to be working for the mutual benefit of what we now call the 1%. Major changes are needed. If we want to change politics, we are going to have to change education. How kids are taught to think and gather knowledge and behave has major impact on all aspects of life for the rest of their lives. We need to create people who understand what voting means and take it seriously.
When women fought for the vote people argued that “obviously” they would vote as their menfolk told them to vote. People argued that blacks would vote for whoever paid them, or that they weren’t educated enough to vote (by people who were keeping them poor and ignorant). Some say that people vote as their religious leaders tell them to vote. I’m sure some do. But as we have seen, people tend to think for themselves unless trained not to do so. There are very few things that have as huge an impact on society as education. So think about that the next time you are weighing in on the school budget. If you want a powerful electorate, educate them well.