The Wrong Trousers

Breaking my pseudo-moratorium on political postings after two days because this is just so interesting… a man in Orange County has won a spot on the school board even though virtually no one has ever heard of him or seen him, beating out a challenger who has three children in the district, is president of the PTA at his kids’ school and is active with the Boy Scouts.

Now all that’s left is to find him. “Absolutely nobody, but nobody has seen this guy,” said Paul Pruss, a middle school teacher and the president of the union. “The whole thing is just bizarre.”

On the ballot, the challenger was identified as a “park ranger.” The mystery candidate, who lives with his parents and keeps a Johnny Cash record cover nailed to his front door, was identified as a “writer/educator,” even though no one can figure out what he’s written or who he’s educated.

Two plausible theories: 1) In a contest where voters have not informed themselves adequately about the candidates, people naturally pick “writer/educator” over “park ranger” because it sounds like a better fit for the job. 2) In the absence of enough information, many voters tend not to pick the Latino-sounding name.

Either way, the snafu points up a flaw in the election system — voting with insufficient information can yield unpredictable and potentially dangerous results.

Tieing into our earlier discussion about what kinds of experience qualify one for office, I’d like to frame the point this way: it is knowledge, not intelligence alone, that is crucial. And knowledge comes from two sources: experience and intelligence (where intelligence is defined as some combination of curiosity, analytical skills, and memory).

Music: Herbie Mann :: Memphis Underground

2 Replies to “The Wrong Trousers”

  1. Wow. I was discussing with a friend the other day the idea that voters have to pass a test to vote. Seems utterly impossible to implement, but nonetheless it seems preferable to this sort of alternative. I’m not talking about a test of general knowledge; I’m talking about a test of specific knowledge of the issues/people being voted on. Again, impossible. But it’s weird to me that it should be impossible, because it seems rational.

  2. It should be required by law to vote, non-voting should be a crime. In an instant, small groups that hold disproportionate power would be wiped out (corporate interests etc)

    Only when the backs of every special-interest is broken will America be able to command the respect of the world and the admiration of its own citizens.

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