Do you get confused by political issues, or are you a well-informed voter when you head to the polls? In the state of Washington, our secretary of state sends out a Voter’s Manual before every election. It’s quite thick, probably a hundred pages at least. In it you can read about and better understand the candidates’ stand, ballot measures and issues, if you’re a Yale graduate of the law, that is. Take ballot measures for example. Here’s Wikipedia’s definition:
A ballot measure is a piece of proposed legislation to be approved or rejected by eligible voters. Ballot measures are also known as “propositions” or simply “questions.” Ballot measures differ from most legislation passed by representative democracies; ordinarily, an elected legislature develops and passes laws.
I’ve never read an explanation of a ballot measure on a ballot that I’ve clearly understood. And if you’re the average citizen, it’s my “proposition” you’ll be wasting your time trying to understand what they’re writing about. If they want us to understand, why don’t they make what they write understandable? Do you think it’s because they want us to be confused? Using big words is just another way to show off one’s education, not one’s IQ. There’s also power in knowing more words than the masses. You get to use words with each other and make the masses feel stupid.
Yesterday, I went to a chamber of commerce lunch where Washington’s secretary of state spoke. Her name is Kim Wyman and she’s beautiful! She has long, auburn hair and has a great speaking gift along with a good sense of humor. That’s why I felt okay to ask a question during the Q&A, after her talk.
I asked, “Would it be possible to write a more understandable Voter’s Manual; sort of a Voter’s Manual for Dummies version?” No one even snickered at my question. I went on to explain that by the time I’ve attempted to understand what a candidate or an issue is all about, I’ve ended up feeling stupid and tossing the manual in the trash.
Madam Secretary responded, “I wouldn’t be able to approach such an issue at this time.”
Since there was not a single person in the room who agreed with my dilemma (the room went quiet as death) and the secretary obviously didn’t find any humor in my question, I refrained from continuing with this suggestion, “Maybe you could get it to be a ballot measure in 2017. You could call it Proposition Dummy.”
The interesting thing about this event is that AFTER the meeting, a lawyer in our town came up to me and said, “You nailed it Pam! I do the same thing you do and I’m an attorney!”
Here’s the deal, people are reticent to admit they don’t understand. That’s why it was so quiet at the Chamber meeting. It’s a throwback from being in grade school and asking a question that someone in the class said was stupid and you got embarrassed and felt stupid. We don’t like to be embarrassed and asking a question in a group can certainly lead to embarrassment.
It’s the same with laughter. As a public speaker (especially one who uses humor), speaking to a group of 30 or fewer is not fun, because people in a small group are more careful about what they laugh at. They just aren’t confident enough to bust out laughing at something unless they’re sure that it’s really funny and others will laugh too. There’s fear of being embarrassed. If that lawyer would have snickered or nodded, (but she was a chicken) I’m sure there would’ve been more chickens able to come out from the coop and cluck.
I’d love to know if you have trouble understanding politics, because of its confusion level. But it’ll take courage to admit it. Surely there’s someone who could explain these people and issues in more understandable language. Until that happens, I guess I’ll remain an uninformed voter, praying for God to guide my pen to fill in the right squares.
For more from Pam Young, go to www.cluborganized.com.