Making Votes Count — Part 1

On Father’s Day, ABC News aired photos of presidents and other celebrity dads with their kids. The photo of JFK and daughter Caroline was just plain adorable. The one of Nixon (do you prefer RMN?) and daughter Tricia — he looked angry and she looked scared.

That’s how JFK and Nixon are always — always — portrayed.

Make no mistake about it, media didn’t hate Nixon: they loved him. They loved to ridicule him, attack him, portray him as the ugliest American. In a weird way they probably loved Nixon more than JFK, whom they could only cover in that dog-loyal to the point of drooling on your leg sycophantic kowtowing that even today requires a handsome Jack and shadowy Tricky Dick.

So what’s that go to do with voting? Quite a lot. Long before JFK made media swoon, pundits fretted that granting women the vote would turn elections into popularity contests — like voting for homecoming king and queen, as women would be unaware of the real issues of the campaign. An insult, to be sure.

The same’s been said about African-Americans (and pretty much any immigrant). In the nation’s early days (ending about 1850), only those white men with property could vote, because arguably they were the only ones with “skin in the game”, and thus motivated to vote intelligently.

Insults, to be sure. A slap in the face to the bedrock concept of inclusiveness in a democracy.

Just look at who those white men elected President back then. Washington. Adams. Jefferson. Madison. Monroe. Another Adams.  What a bunch of losers!

Compare that to whom we elect now:  Carter. Reagan. Bush. Clinton. Another Bush. Obama.

Hmmmm.

Let’s be honest: Those who sought to disenfranchise everyone but themselves may have  been correct — albeit for very, very wrong reasons. They argued that (insert group here) should be denied the vote because (repeat group name) is insufficiently informed to vote responsibly.

Prejudice, of course, is BS. The truth is, people of any and all groups who are ill-informed cannot vote responsibly. Still, we cajole and plead for people to vote, despite all the hoopla about “purging” voter rolls, then ridicule the fools who cast a vote for (insert candidate here).

Voting has become a right detached from responsibility. Which goes a long way toward explaining that Carter-Reagan-Bush-Clinton-Bush-Obama electoral report card….

And, just as truthfully, too many of us form opinions and cast ballots based on infotainment: such as pictures of cuddly presidents and kids. Take a look at pre-TV Presidents. Who would vote for a shocker like Lincoln? With a madwoman wife? And those kids! And Washington — he had wooden teeth for cryin’ out loud.

Carter. Reagan. Bush. Clinton. Bush. Obama.    Hmmmm.

 

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