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Thursday, March 1, 2012

The Way Elections Should Be?

Sometimes, the democratic process that is America scares me. Why? Because I am worried that the general population does not vote based on what they truly believe or know. I worry that the electorate votes on what the media tells them. I worry they vote based on a candidate's race, or how they look, or how their voice sounds, or some other completely unrelated side issue.

Case in point: the potential voter in the following link believes something that is 100% false, and, unfortunately, is likely to vote based on this issue:

Sadly, many, many Americans believe this myth, and they will go to the polls in November with this (and other misinformation) in their heads. To me, this is not good for the country. To have an uninformed electorate, in my opinion, is dangerous.

 Case in point number two is the following video. Before you watch this, keep a few things in mind:

1. This has nothing to do with race.
2. This has everything to do with people voting for someone based on things that are simply not true.
3. This is not scientific. It is a You Tube clip of a Howard Stern Show broadcast where the interviewer asked alleged Obama supporters who they supported and then asked these supporters questions about Obama's "positions." The reality is: these were really McCain's positions. Though this clip highlights only 3 distinct cases, I think this occurs more often than people think.

Case in point number three: In 2008, when the general election's candidates were finalized and John McCain was to face off against Barack Obama, I gave the following USA Today questionnaire to about 25 of my fellow coworkers.

I had them sit across from me, and I made sure they could not see my computer screen. I simply asked them the questions and had them give me the relative importance of each position.

The results (I don't remember the exact numbers): About 18 of the 25 people that took the quiz had a result that said they were a strong McCain supporter based on their opinions of his positions. The sad part: about 17 of them said, "well, I'm still voting for Obama."

What?! With regards to pertinent issues, these people strongly agreed with McCain, but proclaimed they would still vote for Obama?! What the heck were they basing their vote on? How is this good for the country? Imagine if this attitude was multiplied, oh, I don't know, about 69,456,897 times? Would we have a leader that we the people elected based not on his positions but on some other... thing? What if Obama publicly stated, "I want to destroy America and ruin this country from the inside out?" (no, fellow conservatives, don't jump on this... I know many on the right think this is his position... but it's not). Would people still have voted for him? Would they still have ignored this policy and elected him anyway?

So, how do we fix this problem? Yes, to me, this is a problem. Perhaps it's democracy's one major fault: that everyone that comprises the electorate has an equal voice and an equal vote no matter how much or how little they know or care. My solution? See below:

Behold, the USA Today candidate match game (again)! Click the image to take the quiz.

Maybe this is the 2.0 verson, but it contains all the GOP candidates (remaining and former) and president Obama. It has 11 issues (I think this was made before the contraception issue, or else it would probably have 12) and asks you to pick a position and weigh its relative importance to you. It does not reveal whose positions you match best with until after you complete the quiz.

To me, this would solve the problem of voters electing a candidate based on criteria other than the candidate's publicized positions. Maybe under this system, each candidate would submit their positions to an election board (the more they give, the better... it would be up to the candidate), and the voters would chose each issue as they did in the quiz above. Sure, it would have problems (just as our current system does), but it does ensure each voter is voting based on fact and not on the candidate's hair, or what car he/she drives, etc.

What do you think? I know, I know, this is a radical idea... but hey, I care about things like this... and sometimes it might take radical ideas to fix things.

Share your thoughts below. Thank you.

P.S. Who did you match up with? Was the post-quiz result the same as the candidate you planned on supporting? Does this change your position? Re-enforce it? Keep in mind, your views are your private views and you DO NOT have to submit them here. If you choose to, I ask one thing: please be honest :-)


  1. First!

    Okay, ill be honest. Im a Dr. Paul fan, I got Newt first with Perry second. This might (strong might) make me think about changing to Newt, but obviously i couldn't support Perry.

  2. Good morning :)

    I really like the idea of something like this.

    I would love that if say... one month before an election you were required to complete a test like this before voting. Ultimately you could still vote for whoever you want on the voting day, but taking a test like this might at least help bring light to who supports what issues, and give you time to reflect on the candidate that best represents what is more valuable to you.

    A bipartisan committee could come up with the test and issue it in mail/online/by phone or whatever.

    The biggest problem with a Democracy is exactly this though; an uninformed democracy, which is largely what we have.

    Voting on emotions, a whim, or unimportant characteristics as opposed to logic, values, and proposed plans and lines of thinking is dangerous and can easily run this country into the ground over time.

    Although, I wouldn’t necessarily issue a quiz like this right now. By nature it is a bit unfair to pit 4 or more candidates in a primary vs a single president, because that’s just not a practical choice. If anything the quiz for right now should be for which GOP candidate would match your values best. And then it should be a quiz over the President vs the nominee.

    As far as my test results: John Huntsman would have been my candidate, which I'm glad to say I knew even without the test, too bad he’s out. :( Hope to see him in 2016!

    1. RKen - Good morning!

      It's interesting... you said, "The biggest problem with a Democracy is exactly this though; an uninformed democracy, which is largely what we have" and I said, "Perhaps it's democracy's one major fault: that everyone that comprises the electorate has an equal voice and an equal vote no matter how much or how little they know or care" and in one way or another, we kind of said the same thing. Nothing is perfect, and this is what democracy gives us. Uninformed, apathetic, easy-swayed without finding the truth voters. Perhaps a quiz like this, like when you go to the voting booth, would eliminate the constant bickering about a candidate's past and help voters pick based on his plans.

      I do agree with separating primaries and general elections. The 2012 quiz above does mix Obama with the GOP candidates, but as you can see from the 2008 version, I'm sure they will make one that is the GOP nominee vs Obama.

      So you took the quiz and got Huntsman, and that was your choice this whole time? Pretty neat!

  3. Got Rick Santorum. No surprises here :-)

  4. You had me thinking i would pick romney and have to stab myself lol....

    Ron Paul was my pick and is my pick in real life! fun test!

  5. Also just to clarify obama was my next choice of people still running that goes along with how i will vote aswell :)