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A Wisconsin voter and former supporter of Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold recently stated that she won't vote for the senator in the upcoming mid-term elections because Feingold supported the federal bailout of Wall Street. When she was informed that Feingold actually voted against the bailout, she responded, "Well, I'm still not voting for him. He spends too much."

With my experience of knowing human beings I would be hard-pressed to think of this as an isolated situation. I think that this encounter exposes the pandemic of many Americans casting their vote despite the ever-nagging presence of facts.

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A Wisconsin voter and former supporter of Democratic incumbent Russ Feingold recently stated that she won't vote for the senator in the upcoming mid-term elections because Feingold supported the federal bailout of Wall Street. When she was informed that Feingold actually voted against the bailout, she responded, "Well, I'm still not voting for him. He spends too much."

With my experience of knowing human beings I would be hard-pressed to think of this as an isolated situation. I think that this encounter exposes the pandemic of many Americans casting their vote despite the ever-nagging presence of facts.

This voting practice is perfectly viable (if not altogether terrifying.) After all, nothing in the Constitution prohibits citizens from voting using their gut instincts, The Force, or plastic wangs dipped in peanut butter. You can use any of these things to cast your vote. You can also use your brain. Yes, that thing that makes you update your Facebook status every time you remember the plot to one of the 44 episodes of "She's The Sheriff" can also inform us as voters.

Now don't get me wrong, I am not giving Russ Feingold an endorsement from the people I represent at Unpaid Blogger's Local 512 ("Semper LOLCATS!"), I don't know much about Feingold because I don't live in Wisconsin's 27th District. Maybe he simply does spend too much, but maybe he gets a lot for his money. Maybe he shops at Costco, I don't know.

And yes, over the last 3 years, there have been a disturbing number of subsidized rescue efforts for American industries. including the Wall Street bailout (also known as TARP which was signed into law by President Bush.) Then there were more industry bailouts supported by Democrats and Republicans alike, as well as the ARRA (also known as the ridiculously costly "stimulus package" which is often confused with the TARP, the AARP, and the NAACP.)

If you're going to vote for someone, it's important to know why, especially if you're concerned about the problematic reality of government spending. Remember, this is your government that you're choosing, not a laundry detergent. It's important to learn more than the advertised brand name, regardless of whether you're voting for Russ Feingold, Rand Paul, or Paul Reubens. (And sorry, vaguely paying attention to campaign commercials between quarters of a football game while seeing if you can simultaneously eat a submarine sandwich and defecate doesn't qualify you as an informed voter.)

Honestly, most politicians don't give a submarine sandwich about you or your family. This means that it is more important than ever that we, as 21st century Americans, meet the challenge of educating ourselves on those running for office so that we can find and vote for those select few who truly do represent our best interests.

If you can't find a candidate that is worth your vote, do yourself a favor and vote for someone in your life that you hate. You know that neighbor who refuses to deal with the vomit stench that emanates from their apartment? Putting them into office is the perfect solution. Or vote for your boss. Maybe you'll show up to work on Wednesday, November 3rd and voila! Your ex-boss is the new senator who will never again affect your day-to-day lifestyle. Take a long lunch, Johnson.

A basic understanding of two candidates isn't too much to ask of a voter. And who knows, if someone presents you with a fact that challenges your argument, maybe you'll have a fact to throw back at them that will logically reinforce your opinion. Trust me, America, it's possible. Willful ignorance doesn't make it acceptable to cast mid-term election votes using the same criteria which elevated Kelly Clarkson to global prominence.

In order to really improve America, people need to do their homework rather than simply cast their ballot based on the 20-second campaign commercial that aired in between the results of the FM radio fart jock's morning poll and the questionably racist ad for Margarita Fridays at O'Hoolihan's. The world of politics isn't as simple as Good Guys v. Bad Guys. Anyone who tells you differently is hoping that you have no idea what you're talking, thinking, or voting about.

Extended (Optional)

Originally posted to Edward Murray on Tue Nov 02, 2010 at 10:01 AM PDT.

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