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A danger to democracy 

Public Enemy Number One: Stupid Voters

THIS FALL, YOU'LL hear a lot about who really runs this country. As congressional races heat up, the Democrats and Republicans will pull the same tired theories out of their playbooks for voters. Like they do every election season, they'll be looking to confuse. They'll try to pit the upper classes against the lower ones, those who've managed to hold onto a couple dollars against those who swear they can't make ends meet, and increasingly, the elderly against the young.And like they do every time they run, they'll be using special interest dollars to reach the most powerful group of people in this country: the stupid. Now, unless you've run a campaign or two, and I have, you probably wouldn't list the stupid among the most powerful political blocs in this country, but they are. They often determine the outcome of close, high profile races because they are so easy to manipulate. They are the sole constituency of consequence for every elected official who runs in low-profile races like judge, clerk of court, sheriff and other assorted offices.

Understand that when I call these folks "stupid," I'm not referring to their actual IQ, but rather a voting pattern that reflects their complete ignorance of what goes on in the world around them. It is a proven fact that 80 percent of those who cast their votes in this country in races beneath the presidential level do so based on name recognition alone. When polled by political strategists, they typically cannot name one stance on a single issue that those they vote for hold. This fact is well known among political strategists, so well understood that it is the bedrock of most successful campaigns. To win, people must recognize and like your name.

Locally, it's what drives the same elected officials who voted to ban billboards and other signage along roads to purchase billboard advertising and illegally litter the same spaces with their own campaign signs. But then, the stupid wouldn't remember that. The most mystifying thing to me about the stupid is what actually drives them to the polls in the first place, since they really don't know whom they're voting for and they haven't paid enough attention to what goes on around them to have an opinion on anything.

The stupid are pretty easy to identify in a voter exit poll. They're the ones who explain that they voted for a candidate because they "liked" her, or because they "liked" what she had to say, as if what that candidate said was any different from the party line everyone else was using, which, as a person who covers these races, I can assure you it wasn't. Every year, candidates blatantly promise to do stuff they have no intention of doing, things they promised to do two years ago but never did or things voters could clearly see they did the opposite of if they just read the newspapers. But they march back to the polls to vote for them again.

It's so bad that legislators who have broken the location of the stupid down to the precinct level are now in federal court, fighting over which party gets to gerrymander the state's districts and manipulate them to their benefit. It's so bad that the Charlotte City Council is actively planning the construction of an arena a year after voters voted not to build one. They aren't stupid. They know that voters will forget this whole arena thing before the next election, and that even if they remember and they're still mad, they'll be so misinformed that they won't know exactly which council member or members to hold responsible. They know the majority of voters will go back to the polls and vote for the name that sounds the most familiar no matter what the council does, and they operate accordingly.

But it's not just city government. All levels of government operate this way and the stupid voting bloc is directly to blame for it. They are the cause of government's inefficiency, its sprawling bureaucracy, its out-of-control spending with little appreciable results in so many areas and its inability to educate our children. Officials elected by the stupid majority don't serve them or the rest of us because nothing has been demanded of these officials and because they are held accountable for nothing.

So how do we stop the stupid before they destroy the Republic? By spreading the message that the stupid shouldn't vote. We must make them understand that they and their families would be far better off if they just stayed away from the polls and let those who know what's going on cast ballots. This nonsense by the media of telling everyone to go out and vote every election season has to stop. There has to be a caveat attached. The message should be to go out and vote only if you know what's going on. When you arrive at the polls, you should know whom you are voting for and why. If you don't, then don't vote. If you can't name any relevant issues that are important to you, please, stay away from the polls. If you can name an issue that is important to you but don't know the position of a candidate on it much less his voting record, don't cast a vote in that race. Just skip it and go to the next one. And if all you know is that one name in a race sounds more familiar than another, promptly turn and exit the voting booth. You do not belong there and you are a danger to democracy.

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