Everyone’s trying to solve the wrong voting problems. Conservatives are worried that people who can’t drive or people who go to college might vote. Liberals are concerned that conservatives make campaign claims that aren’t, strictly speaking, true. But checking driver’s licenses and bloviation accuracy isn’t going to solve the most fundamental problem: voters who don’t have any clue wtf they’re voting for. I’m not talking about whether your candidate will change this policy position or that. I mean fundamentally what sort of world you’re voting for when you pick the person who doesn’t “believe in” evolution or thinks the military should fund itself through bake sales.*
What we need is a technology that is not going to be perfected until at least the 2370s:** the holodeck. Before citizens are permitted to vote, they enter a holodeck, punch in the candidates or initiatives they’re voting for, and experience the world as it would be if these people or views prevailed.
I was inspired to propose this technology by the following photo:
So, for example, the Zero Taxes lady would enter the holodeck, type in “zero taxes” and have to spend, say, a week in a world with no police, firefighters, roads, sidewalks, or, of course (not that I’m making any particular assumptions) Medicare. Or she could rent Mad Max.
Even generic business-oriented conservatives would have to try to run their businesses without the public highway system, the police to keep marauding bands stealing everything from their factory,*** or an educated workforce.
The folks voting to protest the Affordable Care Act would experience a world in which they work at Wal-Mart and their spouse has cancer.
The folks hoping the military has to fund itself by holding a bake sale get a choice of the Third Reich or the Confederate States of America. Harsh? Yes – get a grip. Though honestly they can share a holodeck experience with the “cut taxes not defense” person in the photo. If defense is not going to be funded by taxes, I think a bake sale might be her only option, too.
Any liberal breathing the name “Nader” gets the holodeck of the Rick Perry administration.
The anti-regulatory crowd gets the holodeck where they navigate the world of 1990 in a wheelchair and test their own food and drugs. Toxic? Ooops! Now we know!
Tort reformers will incur expensive injuries due to a defective product — one that the company knew it didn’t have to improve or pull from the market because there was no financial exposure in maiming the occasional customer — but be unable to rely on the rule of law for recourse.
My usual half-assed humor aside, what do people think they’re voting for? Zero Taxes lady, Grover Norquist who wants to drown the government in a bathtub, even Eric Cantor — what is their vision? What does America look like in their minds? Rich people in gated communities and Mad Max for the rest of us? Besides political gamesmanship for its own sake, what do they want?
Even if they don’t know, with holodeck technology, at least voters could know before they vote!
* A word about equivalence: buttheadedness seems to me to be fairly evenly distributed along the political spectrum. Money and power, however, are not. So while I like to make fun of both sides, it’s pretty clear that the people who are very far removed from reality on the right are now calling the shots for their team, while the reality-impaired on the left are not. So, for example, there is a fair amount of evidence that the Koch Brothers underwrite the Tea Party, but most of the military-bake-sale bumper stickers tend to be on aging Ford Escorts. Not that there’s anything wrong with old cars.
** You just knew that if you googled “when was the holodeck invented” there would be an answer.
*** I love Elizabeth Warren! Preach it, sister!