The CNN YouTube Democratic Debate was on a couple weeks ago. I think I saw a little bit of it on TV and the rest on YouTube clips. Of course it was ridiculous, with an insane cast of characters. I mean, besides the candidates (ba dum dum). The debate questions were in the form of YouTube clips, including the snowman with the Mr. Bill voice, the lesbians, the guy with the guitar, and the choreographed rednecks.
The Republican party is thinking that maybe this YouTube debate thing might be more of a trainwreck and possibly not the optimal way to discuss the important issues of the day, and perhaps they shouldn't be doing this and instead come up with something better. Melissa Jenna thinks otherwise, and tells us so, in no uncertain terms, here:
I'm digging the teddy bears. HotAir.com described the situation as "We've lost the perky vote".
Okay, that clip is spectacularly funny, and has been making the rounds lately. But there's more to this... Melissa Jenna is significant because she provided one of the questions used in the YouTube debate. Check it out here:
And congratulations to Ms. Jenna. Too bad she didn't notice that her question was not actually addressed during the debate. Bill Richardson used it as a springboard for some grandstanding, a bogus accusation of the Republican party, and a proposal for increasing voter fraud with "same day registration", but that's about it. That's right, Ms. Jenna, the content of your question was basically ignored. And yet remarkably, you think this is a good format.
It's too bad that the Democratic candidates choose to ignore you, because it was actually an interesting question. So how about if I address the question? Specifically, "Don't you think that standardizing our voting practices would increase legitimacy and possibly even voter turnout in our elections?"
No, I don't see that standardizing the voting procedure would necessarily either increase legitimacy or improve turnout. An accurate and legitimate tally of the votes is certainly important, but standardization, by itself, does not guarantee, or even encourage, accuracy and legitimacy. Quite the opposite, the chance of the most accurate voting procedure being chosen as the standard is about as slim as Beta being choosen over VHS, or as a Mac being chosen over a PC. And with a national standard, states would not have the option of customizing their voting procedures to their particular situation. And if some state comes up with a superior voting system, it would be much more difficult for that voting system to be tested, proven and adopted.
The second half of Ms. Jenna's question concerns voter turnout. Y'know, I can't imagine a single case of someone saying, "Oh dear, I just moved from one state to another, and now I don't want to vote because these voting machines might be different than the ones I'm used to." But okay, just for a moment, let's assume that what you say is true, that a different voting system is a disincentive to voting. If so, standardizing on a new national voting system would probably require all voting systems to change, and that would maximize the number of voters disenfranchised. That's not a good thing.
Fundamental to Ms. Jenna's question is the scenario of intending to do good, not actually solving the problem, but instead placing the federal government in charge of it, and assuming that will solve everything, and that would be the very government that she doesn't trust, even to deliver her mail correctly. Does the federal government have any real incentive to continuously maximize the accuracy and legitimacy of the elections? Not really. In fact quite the opposite, one could imagine a less than honorable political party that stays in power by rigging an election. It's so much better to keep the elections at the most local and regional level possible, where there's a huge incentive for the local community to assure that the elections are run accurately and legitimately, and where the local community is in the best position to monitor the election. Further, most elections, and most items up for a vote in any given election, are for senators, representives, assemblymen, city council, mayor, dog catcher, whatever. Do you really want the federal govenment involved in that?
So yeah, if I was running, I would be the candidate that found your question interesting and felt compelled to answer it honestly, in a way that didn't suck up to your vote, and not just steal the time for promoting myself and to make outragious accusations of racism toward the other party.