Sunday, October 14, 2012

We Need Uninformed Voters As Much As We Need Informed Ones

Just as you need a brain and a heart, a country needs voters who know the issues and voters that don't.

As the election for the American President looms, after months, if not years of campaigning, countless ads, two debates so far (not counting the twenty or so for Mitt Romney), and four years of getting to know Barack Obama, many are right to wonder how there can still be undecided voters.

If that group isn't broadly criticized, the not so mutually exclusive segment of uninformed voters is. Informed citizens may frown upon these other members of their electorate, but they shouldn't, for their votes are just as valuable and just as important.

Informed voters should take pride that they are the necessary cerebral element of a mature democracy, they provide an element of reason in an election; they learn the issues, they scrutinize the candidates, and they vote accordingly. They often also belittle and regret the fact that their fellow citizens who know very little also equally enjoy that same right. However for all their noble qualities, these informed voters have equally reprehensible ones.

These knowledgeable citizens are usually the most unchanging and the most polarized, this is certainly evident in that partisans are almost always more informed than those who don't affiliate with a party or those who don't always vote a particular way. So though these voters, so much like the previously referenced grey matter, may be intelligent and critical, they ignore the less concrete criteria usually composed of hard to articulate feelings and social values, which though vague, lay at the heart of any democracy.

Where one bad debate performance or one gaffe would not be reason enough for an informed voter to change his or her preference, it is for the undecided voter. And it is this ability that likens this undecided and uninformed group of the electorate with that part of us that does not act based on reason but instead on feeling.

It is on this ground, basing a vote on something as superficial as one mistake or a single emotional outburst, that the informed voters lambaste the more uninformed, failing to recognize that regardless of intentions the whim of these voters functions as an attempt, often successful, of ensuring that the candidate who takes office isn't prone to error and is the embodiment of relative moderation.

Indeed because undecided voters are the most fickle they serve as much needed democratic guarantee that the candidate who can win them over will be far more stable and more acceptable to a larger portion of the electorate.

Of course uninformed voters have their faults, they don't fact check and are prone to make mistakes, but so does the vascular part in all of us, why should the heart of democracy be any different?

In the end each segment of voters have their positive and their negative qualities, but no matter what we think or feel, both are necessary for a democracy to survive.

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