I live in a place where the desire to be politically active has overtaken the desire to be informed. I am constantly confronted by people looking to get me to sign their petition. These people mean well and many are incredibly well-informed. Others are only able to parrot back to me talking points. In either case, I ask my questions and 90% of the time, politely ask them for literature and honestly confess that I do not know enough about the issue to commit my name to an issue about which I am not at least reasonably knowledgeable. It seems like a no-brainer to me, but I get the sense that not everybody engages on the issues in this manner…
I’ll admit that the bar to get me to sign a petition to get something onto a ballot is lower than voting for or against the initiative itself. As democracy serves as a vehicle to conduct the will of the people, I am happy to lend my name to get the issue before the people, so long as I understand some of the pros and cons. However, I must do my own research; I cannot simply take the word of those that push a petition under my nose. They are advocates, and an unreliable source for information.
FOX Nation recently pulled a prank on some unsuspecting women. I’ve seen this prank before in several incarnations, but it never gets old as it illustrates the unwillingness of the common citizen to do a modicum of thinking, much less research, for an issue. Sure, the women in the video are young, but does that excuse them from making an informed decision? After all, an 18-year-old’s vote counts the same as mine or yours.
The above FOX prank asks women to sign a petition to end women’s suffrage. “Suffrage,” sounding like a terrible thing, means the right to vote. The 19th Amendment, passed in 1920, is the Amendment that gave women the right to vote. Yes, that’s right- it’s ironic. Women are signing a petition to end their right to vote.
Of course, this is not a serious petition. But that is not the point. The women in this video so eagerly affix their name to a cause that is very much against their common interest, yet do not ask to come back later once they have researched, ask what suffrage entails or even whip out a cell phone to google it. While this is just a fun video and certainly some women caught on but were not included in the video, the fact that there are any amount of people willing to sign their name over to a cause about which they obviously know nothing is appalling!
Likewise, take for instance a video from one of my favorite TV shows: Penn & Teller’s Bullshit. I know, crass name; but the point of the show is to lampoon the ridiculousness of such things ranging from environmental hysteria (shown here) to fung shui.
In this clip, an “activist” goes to an environmental rally to ask people to sign a petition banning dihydrogen monoxide (water). Without even asking what it is, people lined up left and right to sign the petition. Again, while it is possible that the video does not show more well-informed people not signing the petition, the amount on video is shocking. Penn Jillette, an illusionist, libertarian and fellow at the Cato Institute, profoundly asks, “Is passion supposed to replace common sense?”
I want to make a difference. Otherwise, I wouldn’t be doing what I do. I’ve been misinformed and uninformed on issues before. It happens; we are human. But we need to focus our energy on issues about which we really care. I could never wager much of an opinion on basketball, but I can discuss gun rights all day long. There are topics on which I purposefully do not engage because I’m out of my depth. We don’t all need to be an authority on everything, but if you care enough to sign your name to something, you should care enough to do cursory research on whether or not it is a fight worth fighting.
If you want to make a difference, start by really thinking about issues that matter to you. Engage because something needs to change, not because you think you should. Hopefully, this trend of thoughtful contemplation will catch on and spread all the way to Washington. After all, it is this, “Don’t think, just vote” mentality that got us Obamacare.
If you are reading this blog, it is likely that you subscribe to a Tea Party mindset. If you wish to become involved in a cause, please feel free to research the following organizations. Of course, I encourage everyone to get involved in causes that matter to them, these are just organizations that I support.