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OPINION: Bill Walton, The Problem with Voting

Voting is much more than Fun and Games
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Voting is much more than Fun and Games but as I was trying to think of ways to express my current dilemma of voting for the candidate or the party, I resorted to the internet for guidance. There is the Poll Tracker and the Voter Compass and any number of party websites but I tracked down some quotes that seemed, in one way or another, to capture the spirit, if not the fun and games of our current Ontario election.

You can go all the way back to ancient Greece for words of wisdom about our democratic voting process: Those who are too smart to engage in politics are punished by being governed by those who are dumber – Plato. Or Just because you do not take an interest in politics doesn’t mean politics won’t take an interest in you – Pericles. And a good one by Aristophanes: Under every stone lurks a politician. And then perhaps the best by Plato: In politics, we presume that everyone who knows how to get votes knows how to administer a city or a state. When we are ill, we do not ask for the most handsome physician or the most eloquent one.

Not to be outdone, the French had some witty comments about politics: In politics, absurdity is not a handicap - Napoleon Bonaparte. Charles De Gaulle said: Since a politician never believes what he says, he is quite surprised to be taken at his word.

Across the Channel, Sir Winston Churchill had many bon mots about politicians and politics: The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter. Or, a politician needs the ability to foretell what is going to happen tomorrow, next week, next month, and next year. And to have the ability afterward to explain why it didn’t happen. Finally, some men change their party for the sake of their principles; others their principles for the sake of their party.

Old Joe Stalin summed up his idea on voting: The people who cast the votes decide nothing. The people who count the votes decide everything. However John Kenneth Galbraith explained it this way: Under capitalism, man exploits man. Under communism, it’s just the opposite.

Comedians often have something witty to say about politicians and after you stop smiling you have to see the truth of their observations. George Carlin once said: In America, anyone can become president. That’s the problem.” Boy, did he nail that one. Then, “I never voted for anybody. I always voted against” - comedian W.C. Fields. Mark Twain had it pegged with: “If voting made any difference they wouldn’t let us do it.”

During the last debate I waited for someone to quote Adlai Stevenson but Andrea stopped short: I offer my opponents a bargain: if they will stop telling lies about us, I will stop telling the truth about them. Other American Presidents and candidates showed some wit. We believe that to err is human. To blame it on someone else is politics - Hubert H. Humphrey. And, “Politics is supposed to be the second oldest profession. I have come to realize that it bears a very close resemblance to the first.” - Ronald Reagan.

At the polling booth, some had second thoughts. Like Andy Warhol: I went to vote once, but I got too scared. I couldn’t decide whom to vote for. “A lot of voters always cast their ballot for the candidate who seems to them to be one of the people. That means he must have the same superstitions, the same unbalanced prejudices, and the same lack of understanding of public finances that are characteristic of the majority. A better choice would be...” William Feather. Jerry Garcia summed it up: Constantly choosing the lesser of two evils is still choosing evil.

Finally, I found that old one that still bears worth repeating: The problem with political jokes is they get elected. Henry Cate, VII.

However a few words of wisdom from Michele Obama: Elections aren’t just about who votes but who doesn’t vote.

June 7 – I’ll have my mind made up by then . . . just saying.