Wednesday, June 15, 2016

Charlie on the Issues Episode 1 Transcript

Today I released my first ever video, kicking of my Charlie on the Issues series. On video release days I'll be posting the transcript of that video in lieu of a regular blog post. Here's hoping I can work out my schedule so that I actually still write and post regular blog posts on non-video days, heh.

Anyway, my video:


Hey everyone, this is the introductory episode of Charlie on the Issues. I’m Charlie, and I’m running for President of the United States in 2020.

That isn’t an official announcement, just an explanation of the purpose of this series. I have a few goals in mind.

The first and, perhaps, most important goal is to introduce myself to you, the public. If nobody knows who I am, a presidential run is doomed from the start.

The second goal of this series is to discuss the issues facing our country today. There are a lot of them, more than they can usually fit into your nightly news.

My goal here in not to tell you what to think. Rather, I’m interested in hearing what you think and having a discussion about these things. Very likely you have a perspective I haven’t considered.

You see, politics and policy are complex, and anyone who suggests otherwise is likely either lying to you or not very smart.

My hope is that by discussing these issues we can all gain a better understanding of the complexity of these issues and what makes them contentious.

In the end, though, I’ll let you know my opinion on the matter. You may not agree with me, which is fine, because none of us agree on everything.

However, I’ll be talking through my thought process, and I hope you’ll come to appreciate my reasoning, if not the result.

I’m interested in hearing dissenting opinions, though. One thing you’ll learn by studying the Supreme Court is that dissenting opinions can be very influential. A good dissenting opinion can turn the tide of the conversation in the future, even if it doesn’t change the initial decision. Concurring opinions are also very valuable; those are opinions that basically agree with a decision, but for other reasons. These add depth to the initial decision, and may likewise influence the initial decision.

There’s only one rule: be respectful.

I’m interested in hearing all sorts of opinions, and we don’t have to agree with each other to be respectful of each other. This applies both to discussions with me and to discussions among yourselves in the comments: f the discussion devolves into name-calling, personal attacks, and yelling, I’m going to ignore the offenders until they learn to discourse properly.

With that said, let’s get into our first issue: should you vote?

Here in America, we vote on almost everything. We vote for President, we vote for our Congressmen, sometimes we vote for legislation, and in some states we even vote for judges, which, actually, I think is problematic, but that’s an issue for another day.

Despite how frequently we’re asked to vote, though, American’s don’t actually vote very often. The highest turnout is generally for presidential elections. For instance, in 2008, which saw high turnout by American standards, approximately 57% of eligible voters voted. In 2012, it was about 55%. Sometimes, it dips below 50%.

Other elections see far less participation. The entirety of the House of Representatives and one-third of the Senate is up for election every two years, but without the sexiness of a presidential election to make people interested, turnout drops like crazy, often with 40% or less of eligible voters voicing their preferences, meaning well over half of the population is choosing to have no say in their government.

The question is, is that okay?

Spoiler: my conclusion is that, yes, you should definitely vote. That conclusion is absolutely not controversial but, still, let me explain myself.

Honestly, I’d like to say that, yeah, that’s actually perfectly fine. I’d love to tell people that, yeah, if you don’t feel like you’re informed enough about the issues on the table, you shouldn’t feel obligated to vote.

I mean, seriously, staying politically informed and active is time-consuming and takes a lot of effort and thought, and many people have legitimate reasons for spending effort and thought on other things: family, community, religion, work, studies, and so on. I’d love to say that those who are busy with their own lives should be absolved from the responsibility of politics and voting.

Unfortunately, I think it’s exactly those people capable of that self-reflection that make for the best voters.

There are many people who don’t spend much time educating themselves about the issues that are going to vote anyway; people who lack that degree of self-reflection to decide they should abstain if they feel underinformed. I think that the self-reflecting citizens should go out there and balance out those votes.

That said, it doesn’t change the fact that it’s difficult, possibly even impossible to have a political opinion about every issue. The great news is, though, that you don’t have to! That’s what politicians are for. We elect them so that it’s their job to educate themselves about every issue that comes before them and make an informed decision.

Yes, okay, so endorsing the concept of politicians is kind of controversial, but if you think about it in terms of the economics of time it makes sense. I mean, yes, most congressmen are spending too much time on fundraising and campaigning to focus all their time studying, but that’s a different issue for a later day. I submit that the theory is sound.

Given that, your job as a voter becomes less about scrutinizing policy, and more about scrutinizing politicians: a popular pastime, even among non-voters.

Specifically, what we need to do is look at how our politicians make their decisions and get an idea of how they think. If we trust that they have a sound decision-making process, then we’ve found our choice, even if their opinions don’t always line up with our own. Granted, we don’t always have a great selection to choose from. Sometimes it really does just come down to a coin flip, for better or worse.

In any case, yes, I do think it’s important to vote. I think it’s important to vote intelligent, ethical people into office, and I think it’s important to vote even and especially in the elections that aren’t sexy: mid-term Congressional elections are important, but state and local elections are probably even more important, since the politicians at those levels have even more impact on your daily life than the President does.

So, yes, vote. It’s important. ...But I also don’t blame you if you don’t.

Do you agree? Disagree? Do you have something entirely different to add? Let me know! If you make a particularly good point, it might make its way into a future episode.

Also, if you have a topic you’d like to propose for a future episode, email me! I want to know what issues are important to you.

The discussion is open. Thanks for watching. See you next time.

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