Voters! Get Informed!

clintonobama.jpgMany people have asked me who I would vote for (if I could) in the US elections. Obama? Clinton? My response has been that, in all honesty, I do not know enough about the policies of either candidate (or even of McCain for that matter) to make an informed decision.

I am not into personality politics. I will not vote for someone because they are a woman, because they are black, because they are charming or because they can hold an audience. Before I put an X next to anyone’s name on a ballot paper, I want to know exactly what they will do. I want to be an informed voter.

Many people are not informed voters. Many people cannot tell you the differences between Clinton and Obama’s healthcare policies, for example. Tired of George Dubya’s ways, Obama’s promise of change resonates with many Americans but what it means in real terms is something that many find hard to articulate when questioned. An article in The Times (UK) newspaper interviewed 50 Obama supporters outside a rally, asking them what Obama’s policies were. Some said things like: “I really like his healthcare plan. And there’s another policy – it’s my favourite – ooh, I can’t remember right now.” For real!

Casting a vote for who gets to run your country, or lead your party of choice, is a serious responsibility and a priviledge. I’ve always found a higher level of political awareness amongst those who live in developing countries. I believe this is because national politics in developing countries has a huge influence on such a fundamental, everyday level that the public knows that it must have a thorough understanding in order to influence the political system in the right direction. Plus, people who have been denied a vote for so long (as many in developing countries have) know how important it is for them to use it properly when they have it.

Despite a desire for change in America, there is still a complacency amongst voters. Anyone who does not know the policies of the person they are voting for does not really desire a change. Change comes from knowledge and power and being informed. How can you want a change and not know exactly what type of change you are voting for?

So, I was more than happy to see this informed voter – Derrick Ashong – who was able to withstand intense questioning and clearly express why, in real terms, he thinks Obama is a better candidate than Clinton. He has clearly done his homework. It’s inspiring, but it shouldn’t really be anything out of the ordinary – ideally all voters would have taken the time to understand the policies of their candidate of choice. It’s time for everyone to take a leaf from Derrick’s book and get informed!

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3 thoughts on “Voters! Get Informed!

  1. This really strikes a cord with me, as I’ve always argued that most voters are not informed. In the US, UK, Africa or anywhere else. The result is that we end up having a whole load of mediocre people in so many positions of power.

    It’s a problem that manifests itself in so many different ways. Whether it’s Bush Jnr winning an election with his “regular guy” image, UK voters being constantly reminded of Thatcher re the Tories, or the whole Zuma situation in South Africa. I’m Zimbabwean and I’m not even sure that Mugabe has rigged elections. He doesn’t have to, simply because of this issue.

    I guess the only thing we can do as a society is make sure that there are checks (legislative) and balances (judiciary, policing etc) so that these leaders still end up having to be accountable at some point. Hopefully that will entice policies (out of these leaders) that can move a community forward.

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