On the Failure of voters to Care about Themselves

There was a segment on Jon Stuart’s Daily show recently. To view the segment, the mariner provides a link: http://www.thedailyshow.com/watch/tue-april-23-2013/gun-control—political-suicide

The subject presumably is about gun control but the back story is really about the character of elected officials. The segment compares the character of legislative members in Australia with the character of U.S. legislators. One is forced to think about the denigration of our American legislators. The segment, reported by John Oliver, asks the priorities of a legislator in Australia:

1. Pass legislation that benefits the citizens and improves society.

2. Hope the legislator’s decisions are liked enough to reelect the legislator (the Australian legislator voted for a gun ban bill that cost him reelection. He knew the vote would end his career because he was from the most conservative district in Australia).

John Oliver asked the same question to the chief aide to Senator Harry Reid:

1. Get reelected.

2. Pass legislation (prompted by Oliver – the aide stopped after the first one).

Elected officials in government are there because the electorate put them there. Enough of us voted for each money grubber to allow him to get into office and set up a system that makes it unlikely anyone can defeat him in future elections so he can get rich from favors and lobbyist contributions without being accountable to the wellbeing of his constituency. No intention to exclude female legislators. We did that with our votes. Each of us is accountable for the deplorable state of our government – federal, state and local.

Why do we do this? We are quick to dump a legislator who has an affair that has little if anything to do with the wellbeing of the constituency but willing to reelect legislators who have shown no diligence to what would benefit individual citizens over what a lobbyist prefers and will get because he slips cash into the legislator’s pocket.

We are quick to elect any one issue candidate because he touts one issue that is popular but does not publically represent the rest of his social philosophy – which may be disastrous. And it seems we are influenced by negative political ads. The mariner knows this much: When a candidate starts talking about his opponent, he has stopped talking about his own intentions. When the crap starts flying, this is a sign that the candidate has inadequacies and would rather point out the other candidate’s inadequacies. And we buy this stuff!?

The John Oliver segment uses gun control lobbyists as an example of undue influence but this observation from dockside is about us – not the gun lobby. We put these jerks in office.  Why? How? What made us do that? What can help the individual voter make better voting decisions that will benefit their own life and society?

The mariner doesn’t know the answer but this failure of the American citizen to assure a healthy society needs to be investigated and fixed before anyone can hope for better government. I wonder what the effect would be if a candidate could raise campaign money only within his district? Just musing – such a bill will never pass. The electorate has to clean out the legislatures first.


3 thoughts on “On the Failure of voters to Care about Themselves

  1. I must comment on the stunning photo header on this blog. It is quite lovely, but I can’t help but notice that there is much more ocean than boat. As to the content of this post–I think the electorate feels like all politicians are alike, so we have little choice. Term limits might be a solution, but what politician will ever vote for them? It is a fundamental flaw in the system. The founding fathers, who had other sources of income, probably did not conceive of a professional class of politicians whose first interest would be self-serving. But, if you are not self-serving, in terms of getting re-elected, your voice is very effectively silenced.

  2. This is a sad commentary on our elected officials. I hope the electorate will consider their actions (and inactions) and vote the bums out. More and more, I fear, we are acting like a Third-World country. Great blog!

  3. The one deficiency in our system of government is the ability of the uneducated and misinformed to influence policy. The more than vast majority of voters are influenced solely by the broadcast media and make no effort on their own to acquaint themselves with the issues at hand. They are told what to think and how to vote and they acquiesce because to do otherwise would require effort and independent thought. The same patriots who complain about how the welfare state has created a class of citizens who let the government provide everything , think nothing of letting Fox News do all their thinking for them.
    When I first became enfranchised, I would pick up the election guide published by the League of Women Voters because I knew I did not know enough about the candidates and where they stood on the issues to make an educated decision. My father would have been more than happy to tell me the “right way to vote” but I wanted to make up my own mind based on what was important to me.
    Today’s legislators are a reflection of today’s society in the same way. They are told to vote a certain way by their party, by lobbyists, by their contributors but there is no independent thought to what’s best for their constituents or their country.

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