Tuesday, November 04, 2008

Voting and Knowing Your Limitations

Dirty Harry: "A man's got to know his limitations"
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I played basketball at the community rec center last night. One of the players was a young black man I have known for a while. He has long dreadlocks and was skilled enough as a rapper to at least get a look for a record contract ("Thug Diesel" was to be the tentative title of his first CD).

Naturally my young friend was talking about Obama, chanting his name in fact, throughout the evening. At the end of it he remembered that I had done some political stuff and asked me who I had worked for. "Ron Paul" was my answer, but that did not impress him in the least, because he suspected that Paul ran as a Republican (and he was right about that part of course). I am not sure he knew Dr. Paul, or ever heard the term "constitutionalist."

I was thinking in my head, "If I was a McCain voter this guy would be canceling out my vote, even though the effort we have put into making this choice is very different. I study it my whole life, but the vote counts the same as the least informed".

I asked him, "So you are voting for Obama?". To my astonishment, he shook his head "no". "I am not going to vote until I get my own situation right" he answered. As soon as I was able to recover my speech, I told him that I respected what he was doing. Here was a man who at least knew enough to know that he was not ready to decide who runs the country.

The popular strain runs totally counter to his choice. There is a push to get people to vote no matter how ignorant they are of candidates and issues. There is a push to make the swing vote that decides who runs this country a group a people who can't even run their own lives! My young friend went with his instincts, not with the popular culture's attempts to manipulate him.

Dirty Harry was right. A man has to know his limitations. If you can't manage your own life, please don't cancel out the vote of people who can. They may know better than you do what is best for the country. If you haven't bothered to inform yourself on economics, government, candidates, and issues, please don't cancel out the vote of someone who has.

By the time my young friend does cast that first vote, I think it will be a sound one.

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