“In a democracy, people get the government they deserve,” says a quote attributed to everybody from Shakespeare, to Jefferson, to gonzo-journalist Hunter S. Thompson. We can’t blame our political problems on a monarchy or some unseen force but only on those who fail at informed voting.
In the US, we have the unique opportunity to throw the bums out of government every few years without violence or bloodshed. We do this by merely showing up at the voting booth and casting an informed ballot. Despite this opportunity, the US ranks near the bottom of economically-developed countries in voter turnout.
Thus we’ve ended up with our current mess. While it’s easy to take a partisan view here and say that the current party in power might not have been forthright in their election promises, the truth is that the current opposition party failed to offer an enthusiasm-generating candidate, failed to make an adequate case for being put into power.
While lackluster campaigning and questionable promises are problematic, the bigger problem is the 40-50% of voters who never bother to make it to the ballot box. Not since Reagan has a presidential election been decided by 10 points or more. When national elections are being decided by a split of 0-8%, it’s easy to say that those who stayed home had at least as much effect on the outcome as those who voted.
Voting is how we get the government we end up with. If you don’t vote, you’re just as responsible for a negative outcome as the uninformed voter. Not voting is just as bad as voting against your own self-interests, because you’re uninformed. Informed voting matters – more than anything else.
Detroit’s Demise Offers Precautionary Tale
In his efforts to lobby for a federal bailout of Detroit’s city government, Obama’s auto-bailout architect, Steven Rattner, offered the following excuse in a recent opinion article:
“(A)part from voting in elections, the 700,000 remaining residents of the Motor City are no more responsible for Detroit’s problems than were the victims of Hurricane Sandy for theirs, . . .”
Unfortunately, it was voting, and voting alone, that created Detroit’s problems, so “apart from voting,” nothing else matters with regard to Detroit’s demise. It wasn’t a weather event.
Weather didn’t cause voters to repeatedly re-elect corrupt politicians based on reasons other than their ability or the content of their character. Weather didn’t grow the city bureaucracy to a point where it cannibalized its tax base.
Weather didn’t create a government system that forcibly took union dues from city workers and then gave those dues as campaign donations to politicians. The same politicians, by the way, who then negotiated union contracts with “unsustainable” wages, benefits, and pensions for the city workers.
It was voting that made those choices in Detroit and put a once-great city on the inevitable path to ruin. That same path is quickly being played out on a statewide basis in California and Illinois, and is likely to repeat on a national basis if we don’t quickly get the size and cost of the federal government under control.
Media At Fault
To be fair, the mass media is at least somewhat to blame for the fact that voters in Detroit and elsewhere have made poorly-informed choices. Any measure of objectivity in the mass media disappeared about the same time that tail fins faded from Detroit-built cars.
With that in mind, it’s important to employ a pretty strong BS filter when reading or watching mass media news. An even stronger filter is required online, especially when viewing self-described “gadfly” sites like Huffington or Drudge.
Go To The Source
If you really want to know where a candidate stands, going straight to the source is the best, if not the only option in today’s media landscape. If face-to-face interaction isn’t possible, go to the candidate’s own website. If a candidate’s website is non-existent or not informative, then that candidate is long past their time and doesn’t deserve your vote.
Voting For Yourself, Not For A Party
As for truckers voting in their own informed self-interest, we’ll stop short of pointing toward one party or the other, but instead, leave you with a few unassailable facts related to trucking:
- To the extent that it could, trucking long ago divorced itself from big government market regulation, having grown and prospered dramatically since deregulation in the early 1980s.
- The new HOS laws offer a sneak preview of what happens when government control expands. From when and how a work break is taken to a prescribed bedtime on your days off, the HOS debacle proves that no detail is too small for the advocates of big government to regulate, control, and enforce.
Smaller government is better for trucking. Vote accordingly, but most importantly, vote!