In general. We The People, are an uneducated electorate.
Some, by design.
Others, by choice.
Most of us are too distracted by the daily grind of life to fully participate in our democracy for it to be truly, “Of the People, for the People, and by the People”.
For a democracy to be great it needs it needs an educated electorate. Sadly, few of US invest that kind of time. But Tik Tok is a thing. Go figure.
It’s not our fault alone. Our election schedules are confusing and hard to keep straight. However, most of us are aware that every four years is the big one; our Presidential election. The one that draws the most fanfare. America takes center stage and the world waits on batted breath to see who will become the next Leader of the Free World. Usually, an out of touch white guy that is hand selected by the powers that run one of our two major political parties.
Every two years we have our midterms elections. We have the opportunity to once again elect our statehouse representatives, our federal representatives in Congress, and depending on where you live you may also vote for your state and federal Senator as well.
Sometimes we even have elections on an off year. Not all elections are full of fan fare but our local elections do matter. Whether it be for governor, mayor, town president, town council, city council, county chairman, school board, prosecutor, judge, comptroller, or my new favorite balloted item school referendums. That’s a lot to ask of any American.
Some, like myself, believe we are uneducated by design of our two party system. A system that seems more than content at keeping themselves in the position of shared power. A system that seems more of an autocracy than a democracy at this point. An approach that continues to circulate the same types of candidates or names on the ballot for generations.
Nepotism is a part of American politics. Kinda like an American Monarchy. The Bush’s. The Pence’s. The Kennedy’s. The Clinton’s. The Rockefeller’s. The Daley’s. Dads. Moms. Sons. Brothers. Daughters. Sisters. Cousins. Spouses. Grandparents. Some families have shared the Presidency. Other’s have passed down the job of Governors, Senators, Congressional Representatives, Mayors, State Reps, School Boards, town councils, etc. Obviously, some families are just born to lead. Did we not learned anything from the Middle Ages?
Others, I include myself here as well, believe we are kept at the very least under educated by the will of larger than life companies. A sort of oligarchical approach to governance. A strange belief that companies are too large to fail, and corporations should have an even stronger voice in government than We the People. A small group of powerful people who seem content at the status quo and cashing in on the backs of We the People. It’s a story as old as time itself.
Sadly, most of us just don’t have enough time to care. I have never included myself in this category. But I’m beginning to consider it. Maybe ignorance as they say is bliss. Whether you suffer political atrophy, entropy, or plainly don’t care I’ll let you decide. I think the majority of Americans are at their wits end with all things political. We find ourselves to busy chasing our own American Dream to realize that it is already been stolen. Many want more out of this grand American Experiment. But feel hopeless. We find ourselves victims of modern day indentured servitude. Some of us have it even worse being treated more like modern slaves to a new age of masters.
We only need to look at our own voting trends over the last fifty years to realize that what we are stuck in a vicious bipartisan circle. Used like pawns in a game of chess. A game played by a very small group of extremely wealthy and connected individuals. Where one side takes as much from We the People as possible every two to four years. Campaign promises are left unfulfilled. Dreams are left unanswered. Checks are cashed. Ballots are cast. All the while a built in scapegoat across the aisle allows both political parties to never fully accepts blame or fully change itself. It’s this shared blame that guarantees our mutual destruction. Unless We the People do something else. Enter me : ^ ) ~
Beginning in 2019 I decided I was going to run for public office and conduct a political experiment. I had/have no political connections. I had/have no money. But, I did use my most valuable asset, time, and invested it into really participating in our democracy. The odds were beyond scary. I knew the candidacy part would be a struggle. But the experiment should be easy enough. And I really wanted to understand our political process and the general electorates thoughts on a few things. I asked voters as they left the polling stations,
Do you consider yourself an educated voter?Question 1
I collected the following data while at various polling places throughout Indiana’s 5th Congressional District which included Noblesville, Westfield, Carmel, Indianapolis, Lawrence, Fishers, Anderson, Hartford City, Tipton, Upland, Cicero, Alexandria, Elwood, along with a lot of other smaller communities.
During the 2020 election 424 out of 432 Hoosier voters I polled considered themselves educated. The 9 that claimed to be uneducated cited the Indiana Republican Super majority as the reason. I am paraphrasing but the over all feeling was In Indian it didn’t matter because the Republican candidate would win anyway. I then asked,
Did you vote for me?Question 2
424 out of 427 voters responded who are you or some other likeness? The other 3 people did correctly identify me. 397 of those people apologized for not knowing about me before casting their vote. More often than not having these type of obvious discrepancies was always kinda awkward. When I then would ask how they researched their candidates. Most claimed print and over the air media. Which to the voters credit is a viable response considering how little the press did cover my candidacy.
Who are you?Typical response
Part of the scientific process is explaining the process. How did I collect my data? I conducted exit polling during the early voting dates at various polling places within Indiana’s 5th Congressional District. I drove my car to the early polling sites. I would find the end of the voting line, park my vehicle, climb to the top and give a 30-45 second stump speech in hopes of earning some votes. Then, I would walk towards the exit and poll voters. I never polled anyone that would have heard my speech.
I voted for you
After that I would walk back to my car. Climb on top. Give another speech. Then, engage with people in line. During this time a few people made their way through the line and told me that I had swayed them to vote for me. One person acknowledged me as Ken. He was a husband of a former teaching coworker. More voters claimed they wanted to support me but didn’t want to allow the other side to win by voting for me. The conversation sometimes continued. It was usually positive. People encouraged me to keep my head up and continue with my cause. I inevitably thanked them for their time, agreed to run again, and gave them a card. Climbed up for one last speech before moving on to the next cite.
You don’t have a chance
Facts are facts, less than 1 percent of the people surveyed knew that they had a third option for Indiana’s 5th Congressional District during the 2020 election. I had swung for the stars and missed. I was not lassoing the political moon. But I was hoping to start a political revolution that would make Jimmy Stewart’s Mr. Smith proud.
Why had I failed? Maybe it was Covid. I chalked it up to the sheer size of the Congressional District and me only being one person taking on the political establishment. It was a crazy idea.
In 2022 I ran again. This time in a much smaller geographic area. I ran to be Indiana’s 24th Statehouse District Representative. An area that includes all of Sheridan, most of Westfield north of 161st street, and Carmel west of Ditch Rd. Once again I wouldn’t try and out spend my opponents. Just out work them. I accomplished those two goals.
Unlike 2020 I was back at teaching full time and did not poll as many people as in 2020. I also left out the stump speeches. I went to the Hamilton County Courthouse and Westfield City Hall during early voting dates and on election day I polled people at my local polling location Union Bible College. I asked the same two questions as in 2020 and got roughly the same responses. 109 out of 115 voters had no idea I was on the ballot. Roughly 95%
All that being said, I’d say we sound like an uneducated electorate. The geographic size of the district did play a roll in terms of the percentage of people that knew I was on the ballot. However, when your scoring a 1% or 5% those are not winning numbers. In 2020 I received 16,788 votes or roughly 5% of the vote. In 2022 I received 633 votes or roughly 2.5% of the vote.
Well maybe I’m just that unlikable. I know for sure my local media outlets did me less favors in 2022 as opposed to 2020. The two print media outlets left me off any and all voter guides published leading up to the election. That’s a huge concern for me because it is an example of misleading or misinforming We the People. I believe that an uneducated, under educated, or mislead voting pool is partly to blame for our political ineptness. However, in this digital age I hold each one of us accountable for our own education. As much as The Indy Star and The Current did me no favors by leaving me out of the conversation. All anyone with access to the internet has to do is actually look at who was on their ballot, and you would have all the info needed to be an educated voter. But, at least here in Indiana that was too much to ask. Even in what is widely viewed as the most affluent part of this state we can’t be bothered with this type of inconvenience.
Is it really any wonder why we are in this political mess? Is it any wonder why this grand American Democracy experiment seems to be failing?
As I look at putting these last 4 years behind me. I’d like to formally decree I’d love to fall into the I don’t care anymore category but I probably never will. Not as long as I can cast a vote. It’s my duty as an American to not just vote straight ticket but to educate myself on each candidate. Then vote for the one that best represents me.
In both 2020 and 2022 no one worked harder to earn a vote in America than me.
The last two Presidential elections have turned US into a laughing stock on the world stage and left two near octogenarian’s carrying the torch of democracy. Which leads me to outwardly wonder if we have a minimum age to become President shouldn’t we also have an age limit? Say, 65.
Top to bottom. Front to back. Side to side. By height. Or any other way we like to categorize ourselves politically we deserve better from our elected officials. Politics and democracy isn’t as difficult as it has been made out to be.
Democracy is either good for the People or it’s not.
Democracy, shouldn’t have anything to do with money. Yet, it does. Election spending is the best bell weather for predicting political success in America.
Democracy in America isn’t suppose to have anything to do with religion. Yet, it does. Too much if you ask me. How Donald J Trump and Mike Pence every got paired up as our religious hero’s is something I’ll gladly never understand. Kinda like another infamous Hoosier, Jim Jones, and all those people that drank his Kool Aid. Neither worked out so well for the general population.
Democracy, shouldn’t put corporate profits over the well being of it’s People, yet this one does.
When more than 90% of the people casting votes literally have no clue who, or what, they are voting for or on it’s no wonder why we feel the way we do politically. In a way I feel we are getting exactly what we should expect from our elected political officials.
And until something or a lot of someone’s stop accepting this as our reality we are bound to end up on the scrap heap of all the other failed democratic experiments throughout history. Ancient Greece, Ancient Rome, and Great Britain. All seemed to big to fail. Until they did.
We’ve already had a Civil War in this country. We just had an insurrection. We have meddled in other elections and assisted with a coup d’etat or two during our almost 250 years. Those are all characteristics of failing democracies. I fear we are closer to other failed and/or failing democracies of the world rather than a beacon of freedom we so righteously claim to be.
Our elected officials now attempt to plant the seeds of doubt onto our very own election integrity. Which just so happens to be another characteristic of a failing democracy. More over, our elected officials, also routinely call for a cultural wars against civil servants such as teachers, librarians, and police officers. Pointing at them as reasons for our societal unrest.
If there were a “Golden Age” of America it was long before I was born. If I had to pinpoint that moment it would have to be post WWII America. Europe lay in ruins and we made everything for everyone. Sadly, America has never had anything close to a Pax Romana. A long stretch of peace where we focus on growing our Nation. During my lifetime America INC has always seemed to more closely match British Mercantile Imperialism than a government Of the People, By the People, and For the People. New Age robber barons run the halls of our government alongside corporate lobbyist to determine the fate of our nation. Consumerism at it most disgusting as opposed to the latest greatest attempt at innovating a democratic state.
Democracy. What a concept.
Maybe it’s because of my public education but whatever our Founding Fathers had in mind; this surely isn’t it. The illusion of choice is just that an illusion. For a democracy to truly succeed it desperately needs an educated electorate. Of which we in the relative short history of America have sadly and obviously never been.