The Yes, No and I Don’t Know Of It All – Where is Mr. Smith When We Need Him?

Idealists generally don't go into politics anymore. They write blogs....

Idealists generally don’t go into politics anymore. They write blogs….

This week, the President mentioned the idea of making voting mandatory, like it is in other countries, as a cure for the greed and corruption that plague our American government.   Because, there are hundreds of noble characters like Jimmy Stewart’s “Mr. Smith.” running for elected office and getting beat out by the dirty, career politicians, and only EVERY American voting will keep that from happening. I have a rule for deciding if something is a good idea or not and maybe the President would benefit from my passing it along here now.  (Follow the cut for more….)

A good rule of thumb for deciding if undertaking some new project is to substitute THAT particular thing for something else. Example: I’m going to go to write a novel. Is this ridiculous? Substitute ‘write a novel’ for some action of similar attainability for yourself, like “watch tv” or “go to to the gym” or “help colonize Mars” and you get the idea. So, another one is “I’m going to build a dog house.”. For me, the substitute is “break bones in my hand in some klutzy hammer accident”….and., yes, there will be NO dog house built by me anytime soon.

Got it?

Okay, let’s carry on.

Part of the magical, mysterious concoction of principles The United States was founded on is the concept of being able to think and choose for ourselves. Which, unfortunately, means people do have the right to decide, when reviewing the choices presented for leadership in our government, to NOT make a choice. Forcing American citizens to choose between two candidates that are unacceptable flies in the face of those freedoms.

Something that would made Mr. Smith pretty mad, don’tcha think?

Maybe what needs reforming and changing is the two party system we currently have.  Everyone understands that there are candidates from smaller political groups running for almost every elected office, right? However, I think most of those small party candidates strike people as the off brand choices; like RC Cola instead of Coke or Pepsi.  Lots of people like RC, but they don’t have the numbers Coke and Pepsi do.  The beauty of having more than two choices is that people who find the primary selections unacceptable have secondary and tertiary ones to vote for.  The lines of communication open when that voice speaks en masse, and vote away from the big Two. It’s easy to ignore the stony silence of votes not cast and then blame those who refused to speak, instead of recognizing protest for what it is.

Creating the illusion of choice isn’t the freedom to actually choose. Illusion of choice is absence of choice, which is one of the reasons we became our own country in the first place. Mandating that every American citizen of the right age vote by law is removing an essential American right. Using my little logic rule, take another right and turn it into an arbitrary law. How would one translate the ‘inalienable’ rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness into enforceable laws? How does one enforce a violation of those laws? We have human rights lawyers that make a lot of money suing people for violating other’s rights, but making those rights into laws that have to be upheld change their entire nature. Legislative alchemy can turn options into absolutes but that’s not the answer.

Having rights is a responsibility. There’s a level of stewardship involved, an expectation of engagement by the American people in the direction of their lives. Making laws to replace those rights is assuming that Americans aren’t able to be engaged and responsible for that direction instead of realizing that the fatal flaws are in the choices we’re presented at election time. We get those candidates affluent and charismatic enough to woo campaign dollars away from donors who are interested in their own agendas because the real people who could make a difference stay far away from politics.  There isn’t any room for idealists and the kind of thinkers that founded this country on the political stage with all the personalities, and that’s the problem.

So, remember your rights and exercise them to keep them strong.  And, when in doubt, use my little logic loop to decide. More effective than a magic 8 ball, I promise.


5 thoughts on “The Yes, No and I Don’t Know Of It All – Where is Mr. Smith When We Need Him?

    • So, are you saying mandatory voting would change things? If everyone HAD to vote, the money could still flow quite liberally to influence the outcome. There are other ways to keep guys like the Koch brothers from buying elections, though, and maybe it’s time to talk about campaign fundraising limits, restricting the types of donations that can be made to Presidential campaigns, etc.


  1. I think mandatory voting would be a positive thing – right now, too many people are unengaged, or content to just bitch about the way things are. We would be much closer to a representative democracy – in spite of the gerrymandering – if everyone voted. As for Mr Smith? It’s a great ideal, but unfortunately, the TEA Party has pretty much convinced me that electing someone just because they are outside of the traditional political path is not a particularly good idea. Standing on principle is great (probably better if I share those principles), but intractability isn’t a good path to positive governing, either. Intelligent, reasonable outsiders would be good, but I think the system would either chew them up or change them. But perhaps my cynicism is showing…


  2. Mandatory voting. Mandatory this and mandatory that. It seems people ping a bit too close to fascism for my taste these days. When you lock down mandatory voting what do you do with the people who still will not vote (and those people will still exist)? They’ll be dealt with in some fashion and what form would this censoring take? Where would it end? There has been occasions when I haven’t voted, and just because I’m not going to be forced into a lesser of two evils situation. Besides, one should not put their trust in the prince’s of the world, for they will screw thee up, forever and ever amen.


    • Exactly. I’m not sure what purpose making voting mandatory would serve, UNLESS there was a No Confidence option, you know, for times when both evils are unacceptable.


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