The day after Britons voted to forgo their long-standing membership in the European Union, Google noted a record number of hits from the UK for the terms “Brexit” and “European Union.” In other words, untold numbers of UK citizens voted on something about which they knew little or nothing. I can just picture these Brits slapping their foreheads and crying, “Blimey! I didn’t mean to vote for that.”
Not so fast, you smug Americans. As the U.S. lurches toward a presidential election this fall, we should take the Brexit vote as a cautionary tale. The fact is that many Americans vote with a similar level of ignorance. It’s the reason incumbents, even when they are horrible, keep getting re-elected. “Oh, yeah. I’ve heard of that guy,” say voters to themselves and then fill in the oval by his name.
With this in mind, I have a few suggestions for voters on how NOT to choose whom to vote for in the upcoming election.
- Don’t use physical appearance as a gauge for how good a candidate is. If attractiveness were that important for a politician, we would be voting for George Clooney, Adam Levine, or Angelina Jolie. It’s not Donald Trump’s horrid fake tan or laughable hairpiece I object to. It’s just about every word that comes out of his mouth.
- Don’t decide on the worthiness of a candidate based upon what his or her opponent says about them. Trump can call Hillary Clinton “Lyin’ Hillary” all day long; that doesn’t make it so. It’s true that Trump name-called his way to the Republican nomination. Now that the actual presidency is at stake, let’s use other sources to determine whether a candidate is qualified or not.
- Don’t pay as much attention to what candidates say as what they do and have done in the past. Politicians are going to tailor their message to get the maximum number of votes. While their vision for the future is relevant, it’s also important to consider whether they have the credentials to lead the country.
- Don’t watch political commercials on TV. They are some of the most manipulative methods of obtaining votes. Don’t forget it was advertising that talked you into buying that overpriced product that sits gathering dust in the back of your garage.
- Don’t stay home on November 8. You cannot assume that your vote won’t make a difference to the outcome of this important election.
In short, don’t Brexit this one. Read newspapers and news magazines. Become informed. Then exercise one of your most fundamental rights and vote.