Update the Voting Process to Meet Our Needs

Evidence suggests who we vote for isn’t always who we should

Each election cycle we are beaten over the head with the agenda that candidates feel are important to our lives. Many times there is a large overlap of promises, especially during party primaries. Once we move to the general election campaigns we start to see differences, but even then they are sometimes so slight that there is probably more daylight coming out of the backroom deals than there is between their ideas.

If you’re paying close attention, if you know what is important to you, you most likely have a good idea of who you intend to vote for long before the final push. Unfortunately, a large portion of voters cast their vote for someone who is not as interested in their individual needs as they might think. I’m not sure how much of that can be attributed to newer voters following the lead of their parents, but I suspect there are a lot who do.

While your parents may be proud of you, the effect it has on your own life might not be what you expected or needed. It might be better to get one of those velvet Elvis paintings to pass down as a family heirloom and not have party affiliations as an inheritance.

It really comes down to a question of want versus need. As much as I may want a Cobra mustang, what I really need is a car. An easy solution to this is to eliminate the candidates from the ballot. Take out the the list of names that we have become familiar with and put in some real questions that would drive down to who we need to represent us instead of who we have been trained to want. We could have something like Match.com compile the answers and come up with who we should vote for. They are matching hearts and making marriages, and although the time a person currently spends in office is longer than most marriages, it might end up better in the long run.

Since we already do means testing for social safety net benefits, why shouldn’t we do needs testing for candidate selection? Both would be meant to achieve the same goal, making sure the right people are getting what they need and not what they want. We could throw in the drug testing too if we could find a way to prevent the politicians from cheating.

Who wouldn’t want to find that in a post election world the issues that were important to them were actually being dealt with the way that they need them to be. If you voted for someone who promised you tax cuts, you could easily find out that the other side of that coin is the one you thought would be used to fix those pesky potholes you dodge every morning. A little late to associate taxes and services, but it’s only a few years, and hell that car wasn’t what you really wanted anyway.

So why would you want to continue to follow this same path? Let’s make a change that benefits all of us. Step into a voting booth and state what’s important to you and let the answer be the person who most closely matches those needs. Take the weight of trying to remember the names of down ballot candidates off your list of anxieties and let the system get you where you want to be.

It would be nice, but our system isn’t built to work that way, it won’t happen. Our only recourse is to return to what we should be doing today, listen to the promises, discount those we know won’t happen, do your research, be open to all sides, and remember that you won’t get a mulligan. Elected officials aren’t going to be helping you stretch your paycheck, they’re going to take their cut and move on, so make sure you get what you need in return. Make your vote count.

Mike Kelly