Index card of truth

By Phil Plait | November 4, 2008 10:54 am
Index card of voting, from Jessica Hagy

If you don’t visit Jessica Hagy’s Indexed site, you’re missing out.

And she’s nailed it here. Vote, or stop whining. It matters.

CATEGORIZED UNDER: Politics

Comments (42)

  1. I love her site! Another good one on her part!

    It’s funny how eloquent these index cards can be with such simple and rudimentary drawings and words. Just another wonder of human communication.

  2. Max Fagin

    I don’t buy the argument that you can’t legitimately criticize the political process if you don’t vote. I didn’t vote for the pastor of my local church (Since I don’t belong to his church) but can’t I still call him a hateful white supremacist?

  3. I’ll vote for whatever candidate runs on a platform of eradicating representative government?

    Representative government is an oxymoron at best, and at worst it’s actually representative of its populace. Either way, you’re basically screwed.

    Get people out of government. We don’t send people to Mars because Mars is a hostile environment and it’s cheaper and easier to send robots. Government and politics are like Mars. Hostile environments where humans don’t really do all that well. We’re a tool-making species, and we should make a tool to handle the work of politics so that humans aren’t burdened with such an unpleasant environment.

  4. IVAN3MAN

    Voting records are clear that Republican candidates do better when voter turnout is low and Democratic candidates do better when voter turnout is high. Clearly, the best thing for each kind of voter to do is for the Republican to stay home and the Democrat to get out and vote.

  5. Max,

    The big thing about this national election is that if you don’t vote in it, how can we tell if you upset at the system, or just sitting at home in your underwear eating fruit loops and watching Jerry Springer? At the very least, go to the polls to make SOME sort of statement. Who cares if it’s just “noise” in the national scene; with enough noise, it becomes a crescendo.

    As to the church pastor analogy, that’s a bit of a stretch since it is from an exclusionary process there.

    LOL t3knomanser. Are you doing the programming for SkyNet yourself? :P Actually, there are parts of the post that I agree with: “Representative government is an oxymoron at best, and at worst it’s actually representative of its populace. Either way, you’re basically screwed.” It seems to me that the only people elected officials seem to represent are themselves.

  6. Danniel B.

    t3knomanser, I complete agree with you. Governments exist to govern people. From that can be derived that people are unqualified to govern themselves (Yes, even if you say MOST people are unqualified to govern themselves, to which I don’t agree, the argument still holds). From that arises the curious question: Who thought it would be a good idea to set up a government to govern people, which is by itself controlled by more people (Which we already established cannot govern themselves). One doesn’t instruct a group of sheep to lead another group of sheep (Even less so to lead itself). So here I present to you, what is in my opinion, the most logical solution to this little paradox: Computers. Computers cannot be swayed by greed, or lust, or hatred, or racism, or religion, or misplaced compassion. Computers will are not capable in to fooling themselves in to thinking that an action is beneficial to a nation, when it is in fact only beneficial to itself.
    In conclusion, my fellow humans, computers. It just makes sense.

  7. @Danniel B.: I agree, but there’s one issue with that, of course- humans have to program the computers. So people are still involved in government in some fashion. And our AI technology isn’t really there yet.

    That said, we can start heading in that direction. With the general picture of a self-regulating government that doesn’t require input from people, we can start coming up with steps that could bring that goal closer.

    The first goal, that wouldn’t be a major change, is to create “self repealing legislation”. Laws should contain a quantitative goal, and an explanation of how to measure our progress towards that goal. This collection of metrics would be defined in terms of “in spec”, “out of spec”, “failed”, and in the law itself, there would be steps that explain how the law behaves under those different conditions. “Failed” laws would automatically repeal themselves.

  8. @ t3knomanser

    What you said reminds me of one of my favourite movies, Colossus: The Forbin Project, about a defence supercomputer becoming sentient and deciding to assume control of the world. Click on my name for the Wikipedia entry.

  9. DrFlimmer

    The election today reminds me of that little verse:

    “Remember, remember the 5th of November!” (V for Vendetta)

    Yes, it’s November 4th, I know that. But when you wake, tomorrow, the world will have changed – maybe to a little better one, probably not.

    (Just wanted to say that ;) )

  10. Metre

    Hmm,let’s see. In 1964, the republican presidential candidate Barry Goldwater stated clearly that if elected he would to escalate the Vietnam War. He was overwhelmingly defeated by Lyndon Johnson who said he would keep our involvement limited. Clearly the people – including the “Silent Majority” – spoke out against escalating the war in Vietnam. The people had spoken! So what did Johnson do? He escalated the war in Vietnam.

    You can vote for whomever you think will do the best job or makes the best empty promises, but in the end, politicians are in it for themselves, not for you or me. It’s a crap shoot.

  11. Nasikabatrachus

    Astronomy > Voting Sanctimoniousness.

    Pretty much anything > Voting Sanctimoniousness.

  12. Nasikabatrachus, I suggest you read http://blogs.discovermagazine.com/badastronomy/2007/07/15/politics-science-me-and-thee/ and just get over it already. :)

    Ivan3man, love that picture! There’s another one with pictures from the debate between Palin and Biden that made me feel very bad for laughing at it, but I don’t think that can be posted here. Hint: “Only some of the things…”

  13. Rayblast

    That’s right. But, let’s not hear any complaining from people who vote and things keep going down hill after four years. Third Party, 08′

  14. Danniel B.

    @t3knomanser: I think the answer to that is to use an adaptive software, and simply give it the most basic guide lines needed for it’s operation (Those should include: Asimov’s 3 laws; the complete human rights list as defined by NATO; a list of the most common civil right; a very extensive lists of literature on individual and group psychology; Sun-Tzu’s Art of War; and obviously a complete inventory of the world’s recourses, population density, weapon stockpiles, animosity borders, and whatnot; and so on…) and then let it run idle for maybe a couple of years, connected to the internet for news of the world, but without any governing capabilities yet, so it can refine it’s programming.

  15. @Rayblast, I’m telling you in advance things aren’t going to get any better in the immediate future no matter who wins. Even a third party candidate would inherit the same godawful mess.

  16. Nasikabatrachus, if you think asking people to vote is sanctimonious, then I gently suggest that you’re being a tad bit too sensitive on the issue.

  17. Miranda

    In our recent federal election here in Canada (about which you were all incredbily interested, no doubt!), we had our worst voter turnout of all time … 59%.

    So I wonder, what does that tell me? That we were electing a government from a group of disappointing second-rate parties and we should therefore look to impose radical change on our electoral system because the people have clearly spoken? Or that 41% of the people just didn’t give a damn?

    Not voting is not a statement. You are welcome to continue to delude yourselves that it is, but the fact is no change is ever going to come from inaction (or I should say no change you want).

  18. “59%,”

    We’re beating Canadians at something?

    Finally!
    W00T!

    Hockey’s next! (Right after we naturalize all those Swedish guys)

  19. Supernova

    All this talk about governing computers reminds me of Bowie…

    President Joe once had a dream
    The world held his hand, gave their pledge
    So he told them his scheme for a Saviour Machine

    They called it the Prayer, its answer was law
    Its logic stopped war, gave them food
    How they adored till it cried in its boredom

    ‘Please don’t believe in me, please disagree with me
    Life is too easy, a plague seems quite feasible now
    or maybe a war, or I may kill you all

    Don’t let me stay, don’t let me stay
    My logic says burn so send me away
    Your minds are too green, I despise all I’ve seen
    You can’t stake your lives on a Saviour Machine

    I need you flying, and I’ll show that dying
    Is living beyond reason, sacred dimension of time
    I perceive every sign, I can steal every mind

    Don’t let me stay, don’t let me stay
    My logic says burn so send me away
    Your minds are too green, I despise all I’ve seen
    You can’t stake your lives on a Saviour Machine

  20. ioresult

    Phil, the link does not work: when I remove “%20target=”, it works.

  21. Ah, typo in the link. I fixed it. Thanks.

  22. carbonUnit

    I’m kind of sick of the get out the vote promotions, because voting is really a two part process
    1) become informed
    2) go vote
    But you never hear anyone say “get informed and vote” or “vote intelligently”. Instead it seems as if sheer numbers mater. Far as I’m concerned, if you can’t be informed, please DON’T VOTE.

    I guess I have the same problem with Kids Voting. If you can’t teach them the issues side of things, then the concept should be bagged. Voting is not like a beauty contest or something…

  23. carbonUnit,

    Since being “informed” means wading through a morass of mud slung by all candidates, I think most are going for the “Ask the Audience” effect (a large group of people will tend to be correct, even though the individuals are not). ;)

  24. Matt

    I showed up to vote today. Then I promptly threw the ballot in the garbage when I saw the choices. Turns out the Libertarian Party was blocked from the ballot because the state couldn’t reprint the ballots. What a waste of time.

  25. Quiet Desperation

    Voting includes the right to abstain.

    Disclaimer: I voted.

  26. IVAN3MAN

    Larian LeQuella, out of curiosity I had to Google “Only some of the things…”, and you’re right — it’s definitely not possible to post that here according to Phil’s rules! Did I laugh? You may very well think that; I could not possibly comment.

  27. IVAN3MAN

    Urban Dictionary:

    vote — The best way you have of voicing your opinion in a way that can matter. Nothing is perfect, and there’s always going to be mistakes, but there is simply no excuse for not casting a ballot for what you believe in. Take the time to understand the issues and then take the time to vote. Don’t let people who aren’t going to be around four years from now decide your future. Complaining without voting is worse than any hanging chad.

  28. Danniel B.

    Clearly the saviour machine doesn’t follow Asimov’s 3 laws of robotics…

  29. David

    After years of feeling the agonizing pangs of civic duty, I abstained from voting today, and I feel great about it. I’ve been so burned by over-promising and under-delivering candidates in the past. I definitely intend to complain about the coming president with all my might, whoever s/he might be, in spite of my inaction today. As much as I LOVE LOVE LOVE this blog, (and pace Professor Plait!) “vote or quit whining” is a command that smacks of the superiority of the speaking person, and “it matters” possibly places the command in the realm of moral authority (though maybe not). A display of moral superiority is sanctimonious by definition, even to someone who isn’t sensitive about the issue at all, like me…

    Although I notice that I didn’t get invited to the department’s election party tonight… now that IS a downer…

    (did I mention I love this blog?)

  30. It’s not moral superiority. Holy cow, how can you possibly see that in what I wrote? I’m not saying I’m better or more moral than anyone. I’m not in this at all! I am saying it is our obligation to vote, and if you don’t, you don’t really have the right complain about the guy who got elected.

    This isn’t about me. It’s about all of us. The very freedom we have in the US for me to take shots at the politicians’ stances is because we have the right to choose those politicians, and even run ourselves if we want. That’s why I want people to get informed and to get moving.

  31. Kurt_eh

    Chemist, having a look at the last few Stanley Cup Champions:

    2007: Anaheim Ducks (sigh, at least they’re not “Mighty” any more) over Ottawa Senators
    2006: Carolina Hurricanes over Edmonton Oilers
    2004: Tampa Bay Lightning over Calgary Flames

    I think you’re already there!

  32. stopgap

    This is based on the false premise that voting is the only form of political activism. She left out civil disobedience and market activism.

  33. Saint Gasoline

    Bah! The whole “Vote or else don’t whine” cliche doesn’t really make much sense to me. Most people who don’t vote do so because they don’t really care for any candidate on the ballots. There’s plenty of reason to whine about a country where you have to have the nomination of a major party to actually win, whereas candidates you’d really like to support (poor, poor Kucinich or Gravel) are nowhere to be found.

    With that said, I vote in every election. But I think the people who don’t vote have good reason to be bitter, apathetic, and uncaring–and even to complain publicly about the process!

  34. Dumb Guy

    I live in Illinois. Whether I would vote for Obama or McCain, my vote is pointless.

  35. Paul M.

    If you don’t vote (with which I take no issue) then don’t complain about who wins. One of the great things about democracy is that you are given the opportunity to have your say in the process. If you don’t like any of the candidates but still feel the need to complain that things didn’t work out how you would have liked, then before you climb on your soap box do something positive to influence the process – get involved – run for office – try and effect the changes that you feel so strongly about.

    I’m not saying any system is perfect and there may be plenty of reasons to be dissatisfied with the process or the outcome – but unless you have taken the opportunities given to you to have your voice heard in a meaningful way then don’t complain… though I understand that you be given the freedom to do so – just as I have the freedom to ignore said arguments.

  36. @Saint Gasoline,

    I think if you operate under the assumption that none of the candidates are acceptable, you have a responsibility to find someone to represent your views, and failing that, run yourself.

  37. stopgap

    1) No one has an obligation to vote.
    2) Free speech says otherwise as to who has a right to complain.
    3) We don’t live in a democracy.
    4) I like ketchup and sugar.

  38. Naw, Phil. Americans ALWAYS have a right to whine. It’s in the Constitution. It’s the best of all worlds when people DON’T vote. The “please vote” thing is a false meme. If you don’t have a clear preference, or aren’t educated enough on the issues and candidates, STAY HOME.

    It’s the best of all worlds when turnout is low. High turnout means a lot of people are pissed off and things suck. When life is good and both candidates seem okay, voting is less important. I would love to see a world in which almost no one voted.

  39. Blizno

    # carbonUnit Says:
    November 4th, 2008 at 2:19 pm

    “I’m kind of sick of the get out the vote promotions, because voting is really a two part process
    1) become informed
    2) go vote
    But you never hear anyone say “get informed and vote” or “vote intelligently”. Instead it seems as if sheer numbers mater. Far as I’m concerned, if you can’t be informed, please DON’T VOTE.

    I guess I have the same problem with Kids Voting. If you can’t teach them the issues side of things, then the concept should be bagged. Voting is not like a beauty contest or something…”

    WROOOONNNNGGG!!!!
    Voting is the only power we who do not have popular blogs or reality shows have to influence the direction of this, our nation.
    Refusing to vote as if that refusal is itself some kind of vote is folly.
    If you throw away the last, little bit of power you have, The State will decide for you.

    Doubleplus good news, citizens! The daily chocolate ration has been increased from thirty grammes to twenty!

  40. Blizno

    # Max Fagin Says:
    November 4th, 2008 at 11:00 am

    “I don’t buy the argument that you can’t legitimately criticize the political process if you don’t vote. I didn’t vote for the pastor of my local church (Since I don’t belong to his church) but can’t I still call him a hateful white supremacist?”

    Of course you can call your fascist pastor whatever you wish. You are American (I’m assuming) and have the right of free speech as guaranteed by our Constitution.
    However, you wasted your most powerful chance of changing things by not voting.

    Your voice is just as strong as ever. Keep resisting the fascists. And, next time, vote.

  41. Congratulations USA.

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