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CENTRAL VIEW for Monday, November 28, 2022

by William Hamilton, Ph.D.

Some voting history: Hit or Myth?

Back in ancient times, to be a Greek or a Roman Citizen was a very, very big deal in that you were not a slave at a time when slavery was the norm, even among the yet-to-be-discovered Native Americans. Plus, you got to cast a vote that determined who was in charge over you.

But, at one time, the ancient Athenians took their DemoKratia (rule by the Demos, the masses) a bit too far. For their ruling Council of 500, they picked 500 names by lot. Like picking names out of the NYC phone book. The result was a chaotic administration of their public works. Consequently, the ancients decided to elect a smaller number of rulers and provide them with some non-elected administrators. Thus was born the beginnings of the Deep State.

But how should their votes be cast and then recorded? Socrates, as you may know, was opposed to the written word. Socrates, Plato tells us, feared writing would destroy the tradition of oral storytelling, including the Myth. But shouted voice votes in the Athenian Assembly afforded no secrecy.

Fortunately, pieces of broken pottery, called Ostra, were plentiful and were used for ballots. The Ostra for one candidate went into one pile. The Ostra for the other candidate went into a separate pile. The candidate with the larger pile of Ostra won the election. When there were more than two candidates, Socrates notwithstanding, voters scratched the name of their favorite candidate on their Ostra.

Cynics sometimes mention that pieces of Ostra were also used for anal hygiene. Perhaps, that was the origin of the idea that politics is a dirty business. Moreover, if the Demos decided to banish or exile a particular politician, his name was scratched on pieces of Ostra and thrown onto a pile. If a certain number of Ostra were counted, the politician was "ostracized." But with the advent of paper ballots, the Ostra fell into disuse.

In modern times, paper ballots could be fed into stand-alone mechanical tabulators that produced accurate vote totals. Disputes and claims of fraud were few. But then, along came the telegraph, the wireless (wifi), modern computers, the advent of the Internet, and the, inevitable, hackers.

Modern election technology became suspect. Moreover, mass-media technology made it possible for the self-admitted, leftist MSM to propagandize voters with representations of reality that were more spun Myth than reality. For example: Hollywood and TV produced countless depictions of a six-gun blazing, hard-drinking, gambling, and whore-chasing Old West that simply do not square with the boring, back-breaking reality of early-day farming, ranching, and mining. Educators abandoned the three Rís, replacing them with Marxist-Leninist social-science psychobabble, virtually ignoring the hard sciences, and depicting Americaís many achievements as a pile of smelly Ostra. For potential younger voters, reality became confined to the four-inch by 2.5-inch cell phone screen and to whatever the moguls of social media sites thought fit for them to read.

So now, history and the American electorate have come full circle with manufactured Myth in the place of hard-fact reality. As Will Rogers famously said, "It isnít what we donít know that gives us trouble, itís what we know that ainít so."

Suggested reading: Paper: Paging through History by Mark Kurlansky, 2017. Lethal Passage by Eric Larson, 1994. Around Granby by Penny R. Hamilton, Ph.D., Arcadia Publishing, 2013.

©2022. William Hamilton.

©1999-2022. American Press Syndicate.

Dr. Hamilton can be contacted at:
P.O. Box 2001
Granby, CO 80446

Email: william@central-view.com

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