Viewpoint: Can we trust the voters?

While the response to our little election experiment was not overwhelming, it was enough to indicate a general trend. There were a couple of votes for candidate A, despite the description of this contender as anti-government, pro armed rebellion and involved in tax protest actions. The overall trend favored candidate B, the non-smoker and strong public health advocate. Based on this same experiment conducted in other places, the results are pretty predictable. This little test was originated by a college instructor and later adapted for a high school class. Candidate A was actually a composite of such folks as John Hancock, Samuel Adams, Thomas Jefferson and George Washington, a group of the Founding Fathers. One respondent said there are two voters in the household. One chose candidate A and the other said he “prefers neither candidate. Both represent extremism, the most dangerous of all philosophies.” He is correct, but often these things are a matter of perspective. Candidate A’s views were stated from a British perception. To the crown and its followers, these ideas were the views of traitors and criminals. Yet to us, these men are patriots, freedom fighters and founders. Interestingly, no one picked up on the pro-gun and anti-gun views of the two candidates. In larger responses, the ones who noticed voted for candidate B. And what of this candidate who favored environmental and conservation programs and sending troops into foreign countries to keep order? His name was Adolf Hitler. In a test of 50 high school students, 78 percent voted for Hitler. Of course, in real life, the Nazi leader did not advocate all of these things, but his platform appealed just as strongly to the German people. Why did the students go for Hitler instead of the other candidate? Like most people, they chose this candidate because his program sounded better than the other one. The point of the exercise was to show the importance of identification of political candidates. Particularly because things are seldom what they seem. Making such a choice without knowing who the person is or doing any research on his past activities can lead to some big mistakes. Someone once said that those who are ignorant of history are condemned to repeat it. This experiment shows that is a distinct possibility. Applied knowledge is power. In Baltimore, there is an effort to drop the voting age to 16. Robert Redding Jr. wrote about it in the Washington Times. He said: “A city lawmaker says she will help 16-year-olds secure the right to vote, a plan that would make the teens the youngest voters in the nation and increase the number of registered voters in the Democratic Party. Council President Sheila Dixon, a Democrat, made the promise as part of her re-election campaign for the Sept. 9 primary, in a city that already has an overwhelming majority of Democratic voters and has not elected a Republican mayor since 1967.” The high school teacher who presented this test to his class said: “Forget the election, Hitler already won. Some say he’s already been in office for three years. See what voting gets you?” Another dictator, Josef Stalin, said: “It’s not the votes that matter, it’s who counts the votes.” That is another can of worms we’ll leave for another day. As this political campaign begins to roll into high gear, let’s hope the electorate will do more than sit glassy eyed before the magic box, swallowing issues from the likes of CNN, Fox News, NBC, CBS and the others. Hitler commented: “How fortunate for leaders that men don’t think!” Attorney General John Ashcroft, on his recent tour of the country to promote the Patriot Act, told local reporters he was speaking only to TV reporters, not anyone from print media. He didn’t do that because he likes the electronic reporters’ hairdos.

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