I know – I say it all the time but I just don’t think I can say it often enough. Last Thursday night was the Norfolk gathering of Drinking Liberally. As I was about to leave, I got into a conversation with somebody who said that if Obama wasn’t the nominee, she would be voting for McCain. Besides my usual “that’s crazy” remark, I reminded her that unless the president takes an entire new Congress with him/her, expecting a whole lot from a president really doesn’t make sense. If you’re really interested in getting things done, I said, you’ve got to get the president some help. So go out and volunteer on Glen Nye’s campaign, I said.
She said “who?” I repeated the name. She said, “sorry, I don’t know who you’re talking about.” I said, the Democratic candidate running against Thelma Drake. She looked confused, as if she didn’t recognize that name, either.
See, that’s what presidential elections do. They bring out voters, sometimes referred to as federal voters, who have little interest the rest of the time in what’s going on.
Earlier last week, I had a client call me about a penalty he had received for not filing his state corporate return on time. The penalty is $1,200 and since the law changed a couple of years ago (it was $100), I’ve not seen anyone get out of paying it. I told him that he should contact his state representative. I asked him if he knew who it was. He said, “Some lady, I think.” Knowing that he lives in Virginia Beach, I said “Terrie Suit?” No, he said, another lady. Well, the only other lady I could come up with was Thelma Drake. Yes, he said. Um, no. She’s your Congressional rep, not your state rep. Hmm. He had no clue so I punched in his address using the link I keep here. Unfortunately, the site was down but I was able to make a phone call and figure out who his rep was so that he could get in touch and voice his concern.
Neither of these people are dumb. One is a lawyer, the other a dentist. Yet they both demonstrate what I consider to be a fundamental problem in America today: a lack of understanding of how government works. And it’s a shame. Because come November, they will be voting.