Among all the rights guaranteed in the Constitution, the right to vote is the most important. Without it, the people lose their power and, with it, the risk of losing the rest of their rights. That is why watching some voters squander their right to vote is so troubling.
Recent political news has kept me up at night. I fear America cannot survive another four years of Trump or Trumpism. I am unable to understand how intelligent, diligent voters can support a man who has been indicted for obstruction of justice, accused of rape, and is about to be indicted for sedition.
It would be convenient, given my politics, if all “problem” voters were Republicans, but that is not true. I have yet to hear a compelling reason to support conspiracy theory-embracing Robert F. Kennedy, Jr. I also doubt the wisdom of voters who seem to think politics is exclusively about which candidate can deliver the most benefits, cut the most taxes, or who has the most charisma.
What makes a problem voter? Unfortunately, there are multiple causes. The first is disengagement. The worst voter is the one who does not vote. I will take idiotic voters, such as ones voting for Candidate X because their favorite rock star endorsed him or her, over one who has more important things to do than vote.
The second cause of problem voters is laziness. Thomas Jefferson considered an educated electorate as essential to democracy. Yet too many voters do not read the news or, even worse, rely on social media for their news. The result is a group of misinformed voters who believe wild and false information because “it is on the web.”
Unfortunately, unscrupulous candidates from both parties have learned that lying can get you votes. Trump is the most prominent, but he has company. Is President Biden attempting to force all schools to teach Critical Race Theory? Is the White House refusing to release information proving the existence of extraterrestrial life?
The third cause of problem voters is the belief that, with the right leader, all problems in America will disappear. Hitler promised an end to Germany’s economic crisis that followed World War I. Trump told us that, among several things, undocumented immigrants were destroying America. He ran on solving those problems and then lied about his success. Unfortunately, the evidence of a mixed record notwithstanding, Trump’s followers still see him as a strong leader. It takes a courageous leader to call Jack Smith “deranged” and a “thug.” Right?
The fourth pitfall for many voters is the search for charisma. Today, Kamala Harris is widely disliked because “she lacks charisma” and is “unpresidential.” Some voters choose their candidates based on their age, their race, their smile, and on which celebrities endorse them. Is it any surprise that so many unqualified, arguably crazy, people run for president? The practices of some voters make this happen—the best qualified candidates are rejected not on the basis of their abilities, record, or qualifications, but on what should be irrelevant personal characteristics.
The 2024 presidential vote is still about 16 months away. Am I naïve to hope that more voters will become engaged, get educated on the issues, and choose to support a candidate who is best for the country rather than one who promises them the most?
J.E. Dean is a retired attorney and public affairs consultant writing on politics, government, and other subjects.