However, no one said that being a sovereign voter would be easy. Indeed, when looking at the media, in reference to politics at least, it seems impossible to make a decision that is uninfluenced by other’s when one’s only resources are biased information. Left-leaning newspapers, right wing talk shows, radical blogs – in politics, everyone has an agenda, good or bad, that they are trying to push on the consumer. In spite of this, Tompkins proved in her essay that no matter how biased the source of one’s information, making a decision that you can feel comfortable with is not impossible. Like the predicament we are facing here, Tompkins states that “[m]y problem presupposed that I couldn’t judge because I didn’t know what the facts were. All I had, or could have, was a series of different perspectives…But, as I have just shown, I did judge, and that is because, as I now think, I did have some facts” (11).
With every piece of information she examined, she found nothing but contradictions. Like us, the inconsistencies unsettled her in her quest to make a sound decision. It’s only when we realize that we have already accepted some bits of information as fact that we can resolve this problem. “If the accounts don’t fit together neatly, that is not a reason for rejecting them all…on the contrary, one encounters contradictory facts and divergent points of view in practically every phase of life, from deciding whom to marry to choosing the right brand of cat food, and one decides as best one can given the evidence available” (Tompkins 11-12).
At the summation of this discourse, a question remains unanswered. Why would politicians not want us vote in this manner? Encouraging all voters to be well informed and self-sufficient in their beliefs seems to be a noble desire, one that promotes citizenship and government improvement. Why? Bill Clinton got it right when he said that “…Politicians make promises that won’t come true because they don’t even mean them – campaign fantasies that win elections but don’t get nations moving again” (Moncur). More often than not, politicians care more about getting elected in the first place. Whatever gets them elected is what they want the voter to believe, rather than running a clean, honest, open campaign. For the sake of appointment, many will muddy the waters, dumb down the issues, and offer little to no evidence to back up their claims, plans, and assumptions. Some might think that, if following the process that Tompkins and I have laid out, you must accept some of these baseless statements as well. This is where Tompkins comes in again, telling us that “[You don’t] have to accept just anybody’s facts. You can show that what someone else asserts to be a fact is false” (12). This is an important thing to remember when gathering information to help cast a vote.
Voting isn’t, and shouldn’t be as easy and simple as checking one box rather than another. It is a complex question of moral and intellectual obligations. While political parties and their candidates want us to believe issues are black and while, few, when looked at thoughtfully and fairly, truly are. Breaking the issues down for the general public into uncomplicated absolutist phrases only make it easier for candidates to get elected, not easier for picking the candidate who will, for all intents and purposes, be able to solve the problem.
Moncur, Michael. “Quotation Search.” The Quotations Page. 2007. The Quotations Page. 11 Dec 2007 .
Tompkins, Jane. “Indians’: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History.” Indians’: Textualism, Morality, and the Problem of History. 05 Nov 2007. Henry M. Jackson High School. 11 Dec 2007 < http://www.everett.k12.wa.us/CMS/cmsSites/cmsUserFiles/jacksonhigh/nnicoletta/files/Tompkins%20Essay.doc >.
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