Take it from Snee: Somebody’s gotta do it (but not you)

Update (10/22/2016): As most people are aware, Mike Rowe responded to this post on Wednesday, 10/19/2016. I posted an apology and brief explanation while I digested his response, reread his post, and came to terms with why I could have approached this topic better.

After a few days, I’ve finished collecting my thoughts in a new follow-up post. It’s a long read, but I hope it adequately explains why I wrote the unjustifiable way I did about Mike Rowe, why I owed him an apology, and why I still respectfully disagree with him over encouraging people to vote.

I also wrote it on my own site because, fair warning, it’s probably too boring for SeriouslyGuys.


Yes, yes. You're very well ... watched.
Yes, yes. You’re very well read watched.

For some people, an election boils down to Democrat or Republican.

For others, it’s Vote or Not Vote because, overall, politicians are no prize. They’re more like the price of living in a republic with democratically elected representation: OK, you get someone who will mostly make the decisions you want, but they’ll also be the kind of person who wants to be a decision-maker for everyone else. It’s no surprise that most of these people probably rank high on the psychopath spectrum.

So, I can understand when a common sense guy like Mike Rowe would rather not encourage people to vote. Voting is inspirational in the theoretical, Leonardo-DiCaprio-does-it sense. But when you look at the choices, it looks more like a dirty job — do you ladle out the solid chunks or siphon the ammonia-smelling liquids?

But, when Mike Rowe says that people shouldn’t be encouraged to vote because they’re probably too stupid to do so, that’s not common sense. (Rant also celebrated here, although it bogusly claims he posted it a couple of days ago.) That’s elitism, which seems out of character for the champion of the hard-working American. 

Look out! She's got a ballot!
Look out! She’s got a ballot!

In response to a reader, who asked if Mike would use his celebrity to encourage people to vote in the upcoming election, Mike deferred. But not on the grounds that it’s none of his business whether people  vote, but because he can’t encourage just anyone who’s eligible to cast a ballot. It’s probably better if some people just don’t:

That would be like encouraging everyone to buy an AR-15, simply because they have the right to bear arms. I would need to know a few things about them before offering that kind of encouragement. For instance, do they know how to care for a weapon? Can they afford the cost of the weapon? Do they have a history of violence? Are they mentally stable? In short, are they responsible citizens?

So, who is Mike Rowe-certified to vote, since it’s apparently as dangerous as people arming themselves to the gills? People who “read more.”

Spend a few hours every week studying American history, human nature, and economic theory. Start with “Economics in One Lesson.” Then try Keynes. Then Hayek. Then Marx. Then Hegel. Develop a worldview that you can articulate as well as defend. Test your theory with people who disagree with you. Debate. Argue. Adjust your philosophy as necessary. Then, when the next election comes around, cast a vote for the candidate whose worldview seems most in line with your own.

"I'm sorry, but unless you've read Freakanomics and argued about it in the comments section of a news article, you should probably sit this election out."
“I’m sorry, but unless you’ve read Freakanomics and argued about it in the comments section, you should probably sit this election out.”

I’m suddenly curious to see Mike’s bookshelf. Because it would be funny if even Mike didn’t meet his own literacy standard for being encourage-able to vote. Fortunately for possibly Mike and millions of voters who haven’t carved the time out of their 40-to-60-hour work week to study economics, we outlawed literacy tests, which racists used to prevent African-Americans from “voting against their own interest” during Jim Crow.

But, what’s so surprising is that, for a guy who normally thinks everyone has the potential to shape and contribute to society with hard work, Mike thinks that there’s a class of better voters out there and that stupid people should maybe sit out the election so that we don’t elect Trump or Hillary. (As opposed to electing … who?) We’ll only treat it “like the final episode of American Idol” — y’know, a show that stupid people watch.

Mike is correct that the two candidates elected in the primary are historically unlikable, that “their approval ratings are at a record low.” In his opinion, this is because stupid people got their vote in the primary, and now all the smart people who sat out of the first round of electing their leader are stuck deciding between what the idiots fed them. (If that doesn’t sound smart to you, then you probably don’t read enough.) So, don’t vote or something.

Don't like Bill? In 1996, less than half of eligible voters bothered to show (49%), and less than half of those who did elected him to his second term (49.2%).
Don’t like Bill? In 1996, less than half of eligible voters bothered to vote (49%), and less than half of those who did elected him to his second term (49.2%). A second term consented to by less than a quarter of Americans.

Mike’s ignoring how we know that these two candidates are so unpopular: because while not everyone could be bothered to vote, everyone does have an opinion about the people who won. This is something that every despot and unpopular political party has recognized: they can continue to win election after election so long as only a select group of people vote. It’s how guys like Saddam Hussein could claim 99 percent election victories or how gerrymandering — shaping districts around likely voters’ homes — guarantees certain parties maintain hold of House districts.

Low voter turnout elects unpopular candidates. The solution to this isn’t fewer voters; it’s more.

If every Republican who hated Trump voted in the primary, he wouldn’t be the Republican candidate. And even with the DNC’s super-delegate system, if every Democrat who hated Hillary voted (and it’s possible that not enough people hated her), then Bernie Sanders would’ve won.

Admittedly, it’s too late to not vote for either (or possibly an equally detestable third-party kook) in the general election. But only “well-read” voters participating won’t prevent any of the above from winning. Instead, more of one party’s energized backers will decide for everyone, which might be a minority of a minority. Or, in other words: an oligarchy will decide our next four to eight years of national governance if everyone sits out.

To borrow from Mike’s CV, this general election is like a backed-up sewage line. We can claim we didn’t help plug it up, but somebody’s still got to clean it up. That means deciding how much sh*t lands on the town downhill — yes, choosing the less sh*tty of two evils. And, Mike’s special few who know a thing or two about history and economics should act more responsibly next time so that we don’t have a plugged up sewage line for the next general election.

Do we let a controlled amount out, or do we cover the whole town in one burst and let the sun and flies sort it out?
Do we let a controlled amount out over the next four years, or do we cover the whole town in one burst and let the sun and flies sort it out in 2020?

We all need to vote. And not just for president — because too f*cking late — but in the primaries and in the off-year elections, because today’s House or Senate candidate will probably run for President tomorrow. It’s a dirty job, but somebody’s gotta do it.

So, if Mike Rowe won’t say it, I will. Vote. Even if you don’t think you don’t know enough — and really, who does? That’s why we elect qualified representatives. — vote. And don’t let anyone, especially Mike Rowe, tell you that it’s better if you don’t.

And if hearing that choosing not to vote when you’re capable of doing so makes you feel guilty? Then maybe do something so that you don’t feel ashamed, like vote or at least don’t make a big deal about not voting.

Or, don’t listen to me. Nobody cares what I think. Nobody asked me, anyway. But at least I’m not trying to sell you a t-shirt off of apathy and low self-worth.

mike-shirt
Source: Mike Rowe.

Published by

Rick Snee

Through his writing for SeriouslyGuys, Rick Snee has alternately been accused of being: a liberal, a conservative, three different spellings of “moron,” some old grump, a millennial know-nothing and — on one occasion — a grave insult to a minor deity in some obscure pantheon (you probably haven’t heard of it). Really, he’s just one of The Guys, y’know?

51 thoughts on “Take it from Snee: Somebody’s gotta do it (but not you)”

  1. Obviously you don’t get Mr. Rowe very well. The last thing he is, is anti-vote. Unlike others, he doesn’t use his celebrity to sway people to voting one way or another. He wants people to make their own decisions. What I take away from your post…jealous much?

  2. Yeah, because I would take the suggestions of some random blogger such as yourself over an extremely smart, talented, well-read man who loves this country, such as Mike Rowe. Nice try.

  3. Now that you’ve had your 15 minutes of fame (or more likely 15 seconds), you would be well served to go back and read Mr. Rowe’s piece on voting again. I really think you missed the point.

  4. I really hope that people follow Mr. Rowe”s advice and learn about the candidates, and not in the last month of the election process. If there were more informed voters that weren’t swayed by the latest sound bite, maybe we wouldn’t have the horrible choices we have now. Obviously, you can’t be very informed yourself, if you equate gathering information to defend your positions as a “literacy test to hold down minorities.” I hope you enjoy the notoriety that you post as generated, as many Americans agree with what Mr. Rowe is able to express so eloquently.

  5. A lot of mis-quotes on Mike Rowe’s commentary. Might want to proof your work. I have read both the Rowe post and your own side of this issue and I cannot agree with you. Just my opinion.

  6. I just wonder if you even read what Mike wrote? You say he said people are too stupid to vote. Pretty sure that’s how you took it not what he said. Think about this. When Leno used to ask people about ending woman’s suffrage and they said sure because he’s talking about (jokingly to show the naïveté of folks) ending a women’s right to vote. Do you want that person vote? If you just found out what Woman’s sufferage is then you shouldn’t vote either.

  7. I look forward to your reply to Mike’s latest Facebook post. The one where he dissects this lame blog and makes your lack of anything resembling journalistic integrity apparent. You owe him an apology and could apparently benefit from taking his advice to read more…

  8. As you’ll get plenty of responses from people who came from Mike’s FB page, you really should read his retort to you. I’m sure you can find it. I would be interested in hearing your response to his post.

  9. Ah, it’s the old “Walk right up to the biggest guy and punch him!” strategy to get some clicks!
    Good luck with that.
    Here comes the fist of the other guy……

  10. Guess Mike Rowe ripped you a new one! You really made a fool out of yourself this time. Now get back downstairs to your basement.

  11. I’m curious as to why you would encourage people to vote without being informed on the candidates or the platforms? Shall they just go to the poll, flip a coin and hope for the best? Maybe they will get a leader who is on the same page, maybe they wont. If the “voter” actually took the time to see what each candidate was about, they can help make more of a difference by making an informed ballot. I realize most journalists like to take quotes out of context, but this is a bit much.

  12. Be sure to post a follow-up to your new fans of how it feels to have your painstakingly written blog post absolutely OBLITERATED by someone who is famous and a lot smarter than you are. There is nothing left of your original point; it has been vaporized.

    Write about that feeling. Seriously.

  13. Well, you can read (some) and you can string a few words together, but comprehension seems to be a big issue.

  14. I came here to tell you to go back and reread Mr. Rowe’s very well though, informative, insightful essay on why he won’t publicly ask the masses to go out and cast a ballot but it looks like a few people got here before me lol. Looks like the only way you get traffic to your blog is to slam the works of others. Good try tho guy!

  15. I bet you regret writing this article after Mike Rowe just destroyed you on Facebook. Way to be a douche Snee.

  16. See, when I first saw the post from Mike about not encouraging everyone to vote, I went in ready to swing fists. I take voting very seriously and have often encouraged people to vote. I’ve even playfully shamed close friends and family for not voting. But as I read Mr. Rowe’s thoughts, I rethought my position. I certainly encourage being informed, I have an entire FB page dedicated to politics, but it does seem irresponsible to advocate just voting. I don’t think I’ve ever supported voting without also encouraging being informed at the same time, but still, I needed to hear what Mike was saying. I’m grateful he shared that perspective to challenge my thinking. It’s tough to hear a deeply-held belief challenged, but I believe it is the mark of a truly thinking person who can entertain that kind of challenge and change position if the right evidence is presented. After all, isn’t that why we present arguments in debates at all? If there is no one to listen with an open mind, what’s the point? Incorrectly quoting someone is appalling, even in a paraphrase in an editorial. Any real journalist (and no, a blog alone doesn’t count) would apologize and publish a retraction.

  17. Seriously?!?! I love it when someone looks like a moron but when they open their mouth (or in this case, writes a blog) they remove all doubt.
    You should probably find a new hobby. Perhaps digging holes is more for you.

  18. I am honestly stunned as I read this. You just told people to go ahead and vote regardless of the amount of knowledge they have regarding not only the issues facing our country but quite possibly how our government works in the first place. Trust your “qualified” representatives to help you make an informed decision? Are you referring to the representatives that will be pushing their own party affiliated agendas? The ones who, without a doubt, cannot be trusted to give fair, honest and balanced information to voters? What you should have done, as a responsible citizen, is use your opportunity to reach a wide audience by encouraging them to educate themselves, encouraging them to help educate others. Used this space to post links to information on the candidates, on how our government works, on how economics plays a defining role in the stability and growth of our country. Oh wait, those are exactly the points Mike Rowe made, and he even suggested some reading material to help the voting public better understand these things. Maybe you should consider reading some of these materials before you make your trip to the polls in November…

  19. I’ve heard of selective hearing and selective amnesia, but you, my friend, are a selective reader. Mr. Rowe said nothing of the sort. Please take some time, take all you want, and reread the entirety of his writing on the subject. You obviously missed a lot of the words your first time through.

  20. It’s a shame that you have to change the words of a gentleman like Mr. Rowe. He never said what you claim he said. The unfortunate part is that, like the insurance commercial last year, people believe that if the read it on the web it has to be true. You have misstated what Mr. Rowe wrote and you should apologize and have the courage to print what her wrote verbatim.

  21. Did you actually read what Mike Rowe said? Or are you just trying to get your 15 minutes of fame? And thanks for advertising his shirts. Mr. Rowe has raised over 4 million dollars to help people get to trade school selling those shirts along with various C.R.A.P (collectibles, rare and precious). I spell this out for you since you clearly have no idea what you are talking about.

  22. For a moron you sure do write a lot. Next time save yourself a bunch of time and preface whatever you write with: “I’m a moron, please don’t read the following…”

  23. I tried searching terms you attribute from the Mike Rowe article and guess what? They aren’t there. Not only did you completely miss the point of Mr. Rowe’s article you then misrepresent him by making up statements that you attribute to him. You sir, are no journalist. By making shit up you are just a lier.

  24. Oh the snarky, truth skewing, douche baggery that is the desperate cry for attention on the internet. But, hey! You got attention! Yay, you! Now thousands of people know what an idiot you are. Or are you a liar?

  25. I really wanted to leave a nasty comment to this ridiculous piece, but others have obviously made the point much better that I ever could. Next time read the article you are commenting on.

  26. Aww, I see your adorable little hatchet piece got you some of the attention you so clearly crave at any cost!

    Good for you!

    Maybe mommy will let you sit at the big people table now!

  27. It’s shameful that you made the choice to not only misquote, but fabricate quotes in order to prove a point. What’s interesting is your point states that everyone should vote, whether they know anything about what they are voting on or not. Like taking a multiple choice test where you randomly select answers or copy someone elses. You are a poor example to those that read your blog & should be embarrassed for writing this.

  28. This is the first and only time I’ll ever be on what should be an even-more-obscure-than-it-is website, and I have only one thing to say.

    Are you serious? Guy?

    You know, after we die, we don’t know we’re dead. Everyone else feels the pain. Same thing when we’re stupid. Please stop thinking you’re smart. You’re not.

  29. Come on guys! It was satire, the whole thing! Didn’t you catch one of the last paragraphs? “That’s why we vote for qualified representatives!” Pure sarcasm there- because anyone who has been paying any kind of attention knows that no one that is qualified is running.

    Seriously- if you are going to argue what someone said, try actually using their own words, not made up ones that they never said. You are just another to add to the long list of people who tried to discredit Mike Rowe and failed miserably at it. He has a response for you on his Facebook page. You should try actually reading it, because it’s obvious you didn’t even read the first one that got your panties in a knot.

  30. You make bloggers look bad. At least journalists can get fired for making up quotes as low as we seem to hold them.

  31. As one person stated. You don’t get Rowe……If Rowe says it’s so….it’s a go…we get Rowe..but you dude have to go… Man I crack myself up.. But seriously, you really need to listen & do you research. You just embarrassed your self.

  32. I think you’re both right. We’re in a terrible mess. Our choices are sub par. So we’ll vote for who we feel will do the least damage, and try very hard to not be the laughing stock of the world.

    Please if you don’t understand basic US government, basic world economy, and what’s happening in the world today (and not just from one networks point of view) then please study hard before you vote. Believe nothing that is said, every network, candidate, blog, currently seated politician, anything you might read, will have spin to favor one group or candidate. So if you want to know, fact check everything. It your civil right to vote. It’s your civil duty to know the true facts.

    God please Bless our Country, I think we will need it.

  33. I LOVE your response to Mike Rowe’s response. I really feel how sorry you are.

    Disagreeing with his opinion is one thing, But you put words in his mouth. You ‘quoted’ him, but you didn’t really quote him. That makes you a liar. Not passionate about a topic- but willing to stretch the truth and spread rumors. Sounds like you could be one of those ‘qualified politicians’ you think actually exists.

  34. The best argument against democracy is a five-minute conversation with the average voter.

    ~Winston Churchill~

  35. “The point was to disagree and be funny” No, it wasn’t. Your point was to argue and call Mike out. You know it, he knows it…period. And you failed. On an epic scale.

  36. It is incomprehensible how someone who thinks that they are so worldly can be so sadly mistaken about the individual named Mike Rowe. You, my dear sir, are a moron. And no, I did not take the time to read your eloquent ravings on Mike, nor peruse your website.

  37. You lied (and not even very well). You got caught. You tried to qualify your lies as humor (and not even very well). Caught again!

  38. First and last time I’ll be here.

    Mark Twain said it best “It is better to keep your mouth closed and let people think you are a fool than to open it and remove all doubt.”

    Thank you for removing all doubt.

  39. Hi Rick Snee! Your attempt at passing you’re poorly assembled article off as humor is as pathetic as the content of the article itself. Please kindly throw you’re uneducated carcass off of the nearest bridge. Thanks.

  40. Wow, was a great demonstration of people’s inability to be civil.

    I do think you confused the ideas of trying to convince people not to vote, not allowing people to vote, and encouraging people to vote. All Mr. Rowe said was that he wasn’t interested in using his celebrity status to encourage people to vote; he wasn’t using his celebrity status to encourage people not to vote, or to lobby to make voting more difficult.

    There’s nothing wrong with wishing that people who can’t be bothered to pay attention won’t vote. Bill Maher argued against Motor Voter Registration on the grounds that if you couldn’t be bothered to figure out how to register to vote, you weren’t paying enough attention to vote. Humor, with a core of truth.

    I believe it was during the Bush/Kerry election that polls were taken of people’s understanding of their candidate’s position on major issues. A large percentage (as I recall over 30%) had it wrong, and actually thought their candidate’s position was that of his opponent, even when it was a core issue for the voter being polled.

    I wouldn’t try to ban these people from voting, but I sure wish they wouldn’t.

    See folks, it is possible to disagree with Snee without actually just throwing insults. It’s called “common” courtesy.

  41. “If we are to guard against ignorance and remain free, it is the responsibility of every American to be informed.” – Thomas Jefferson (though some say this is Ronald Reagan’s interpretation of something Jefferson said)

  42. NO. You are correct. Rowe IS being a GOP elitist, ignoring ALL of the Constitution history behind our democracy. Thomas Jefferson already lost his same argument about this.

    Guns and voting is false equivalence. The ballot isn’t SINGLE issue as there’s lot of local and down ballot issues.

    In fact Rowe is a thinly veiled Racist if you go back through history about this:
    * only people with land are educated enough to vote
    * only men are intelligent enough to vote
    * only white people are human enough to vote
    * only English descendents are civilised enough to vote (vs Irish, Italian)

    People making stupid votes is designed in. It’s called statistics and math. That’s why we have our electoral college system for President, districts, etc.

    Assuming there’s a lot of stupid voters is stupid. Arguing from authority: http://scholar.harvard.edu/jlhochschild/publications/if-democracies-need-informed-voters-how-can-they-thrive-while-expanding-en

    1. Joseph Lee, ever hear of Godwins Law? Well, as soon as you called Mike Rowe a racist you lost any value in your argument because you just used the equivalent to Godwins Law.

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