College Taught Me How to Vote (sometimes)
As I filled out my absentee ballot, I found myself deeply ambivalent- both about the local races I know nothing about, and the Presidential race I’ve been reading about for months and could talk about for hours. I wonder whether all these things I know about the candidates reflect what they know about themselves and their real plans; and further how future events will intervene to make the candidates act in ways they themselves don’t anticipate.
But the problem is bigger than uncertainty about the future; it is more a fundamental inability to judge people. I lack the experience, knowledge, and confidence to say that one person is better than another unless the evidence is overwhelming. College taught me how to evaluate position papers and speeches, but some time working HR, or working anywhere, would have taught me to evaluate people with more confidence (if not knowledge).
So why do I say that college taught me how to vote, if it left me unable to choose candidates? Easy, there’s more than names on a ballot! There are questions, direct questions about single issues. That’s exactly the kind of thing college is good for; these questions could blend into an exam in political science, philosophy, or economics. Except they’re easy; it is pretty straightforward to see which groups are hurt or helped economically, and how a single proposition fits with your political philosophy.
The ironic part of all this single-issue preparation is that while I feel I’ve learned well how to vote as a senator, I’m left clueless about how to vote for a senator.