Today is election day and you've probably heard round-the-clock public service announcements from celebrities on TV, radio, and youtube telling you to "get out and vote, no matter what, no excuses" because "you have a public duty" and "the stakes are too big for you to stay home."
I would rephrase this announcement to say get out and vote, but only if you already planned on doing it (before Leonardo DiCaprio or Ben Affleck commanded you) and only if you actually know what's going on in this country. People that have to have MTV tell them to get off their ass and pull the lever are already clueless and probably don't pay taxes. Frankly, they should do the public a duty by not voting.
But statements like "the stakes are too big to stay home" bring focus to a larger point that's really worth discussing. If our politicians and judges actually obeyed the Constitution instead of doing violence to it at every twist and turn, the stakes really shouldn't be that big on the election day, and choosing our president shouldn't be that big a deal. The founding fathers designed the presidency to be the head of state and commander-in-chief of our armed forces should Congress declare war, and little else.
The fact that the stakes are so big illustrates just how powerful, intrusive, and omnipresent the federal government has become in our economic and personal lives, and how ignored our original Constitution is.
You'll also hear pundits say how the "right to vote is what made America great." Well, there's some truth to that, but I don't think voting is the most important right we as citizens have. What about the right to private property, to freedom of assembly, to own a firearm, to earn and keep the fruits of one's labor, to trade freely with others?
If these aforementioned rights were as fiercely protected under the Constitution as originally intended, the right to vote wouldn't be as nearly as big a deal as it is today. It simply wouldn't matter if the president was Republican or Democrat, because neither would have the ability to benefit or burden us as private individuals. It wouldn't matter who was appointed to the Supreme Court, because each justice's role would be limited to interpreting laws instead of writing new ones from the bench and determining social policy for 300 million people. It wouldn't matter which party controlled Congress because $3 trillion of our tax dollars wouldn't be up for grabs to be wasted at the whim of the lobbyists and interest groups that feed (gorge might be the better term) at the federal trough. The redistributive state as we know it wouldn't be allowed to exist.
A few decades ago (not sure if it still holds true today) it was said that the best-run government in the world was Switzerland, yet you could walk up to someone on the streets there and ask them who the president was and get a blank stare in return: so few people there actually knew who their own head of state was, not because they were ignorant, but because the national government played such a non-role in that country's society.
I'm not saying let's all pack our bags and move to Switzerland, but, like millions of fellow young voters today, I have that magical "HOPE." Hope that some day, this country will return to a constitutional republic where government is small, limited, and insubstantial. After glancing at Messrs. Obama's and McCain's platforms for no more than, say, 10 seconds, it becomes apparent I won't be able to hold my breath waiting for that day to come.