Jean Barker

Voting for idiots

2016-10-10 07:57

Jean Barker

One of the most disturbing trends the Trump for President threat has revealed is the tendency of American voters to think that by electing a “representative”, they should be electing someone as much like themselves as possible, even if that person is utterly incompetent to fulfill the role of POTUS.

Sometimes anecdotes speak louder than stats, so I'll share one, from a drunken birthday party for a friend. It was past the stage when non-smokers start bumming “just one smoke” (you know that time of night) and way past the time when anyone was afraid to talk politics. Especially me. I found myself asking for an update from a brilliant dude, who I knew was a Bernie or Buster.

He told me he was voting for Gary Johnson.

“Gary Johnson? Are you insane? The guy doesn't know what Allepo is!” This was even before Gary failed to bring to mind a single world leader he admired, or name the leader of North Korea.

My otherwise very smart friend then argued that given that - since Gary didn't think America should play a foreign policy role, and since many Americans don't know where Allepo is - Gary himself didn't need to know “what” Allepo was. Was that so bad, he asked?

“Yes! That is so bad!” 

To not know where Allepo, the most newsworthy city in the world, is like not knowing where Berlin was in 1939. It’s bad, not just for the president, whose job is to know stuff like that, but for everybody who doesn't know. Nobody in their right mind should considering electing the Dead Weight from Drunken Quiz Night as president of the most powerful and militarized nation on earth. If Gary Johnson's elected president, the Generals will be running the country faster than you can say "Colin Powell" ... while Gary him wanders around the White House in his bathrobe trying to find the Oval Office, so that he can take a selfie of himself offering a picture of Monica Lewinsky a joint.

Choosing Gary over Hillary only reveals the ignorance of those 29% of millennial votes who plan to X in his box. On tax, healthcare, free college, TPP, and the minimum wage, Johnson is with Trump, and Hillary is Bernie's ally, and on many key issues Gary, disturbingly, has, and I quote: “no opinion”. 

Sure, Donald Trump has very little chance of winning the election. The most trusted predictor,, puts Hillary's odds at 81.5% against Donald's 18.4% at time of writing, shortly after Debate Night Two, partly because of the federal nature of US politics, rather than percentages. But the fact that Trump’s even in the running tells us that the world’s oldest democracy isn’t the most mature one, after all.

No, I'm not saying Bernie Bros - or millennials - are immature. Unfortunately political immaturity is ageless. The 70-year-olds who grew up in the political discussion vacuum of the red-under-the-bed 50s (thanks, cold war) and the millennials people who grew up in the political vacuum of the terrorist-under-the-bed 2000s (thanks, September 11) seem equally politically moronic to an outsider like me right now. Both groups appear immune to facts, uninterested in them, and afraid of real debate. They're political “deplorables”, whether left or right wing.

They seem unaware of how countries that have more than two dominant parties, like Israel, rely heavily on coalitions with extreme splinter groups to form parties, and also unaware that in most of those countries, the electorate never gets to pick the President or Prime Minister. The parties do that. And is that system really any better? I mean, we South Africans got Zuma!

So maybe the problem isn’t the system – in America, or anywhere. Maybe the real problem is the lack of political finesse of the people using it. America has a strong party political structure. It's complicated and intelligent, and requires education and goodwill to be effective. Republicans and Democrats' platforms differ more than ever before, offering two very different choices.

What's really needed in America is action between elections, fewer “trigger warnings”, more real sensitivity, less selfishness, and informed decision making. 

This brings us back to what my friend Alicia said: Leaders should be competent. The US president's bedside manner, like your dentist's, is less important than whether or not they can do the job.

Jean earned an MFA in Directing and Screenwriting and works in the LA film industry. She tweets as @jeanbarker and blogs pictures of signs and more, here. She will be back.

DisclaimerNews24 encourages freedom of speech and the expression of diverse views. The views of columnists published on News24 are therefore their own and do not necessarily represent the views of News24.


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