“An ignorant people is a blind instrument of its own destruction. Ambition and intrigue abuses the credulity and experience of men lacking all political, economic, and civic knowledge” Simón Bolívar.
Even though it is not new, ignorance still an enormous problem for Colombian people. Especially, when it comes to democratic elections in small towns.
The electoral participation depends on three main factors: having the necessary resources to take an electoral decision and carry it out, negative or positive motivations to politics and politicians and the context which takes in account if other people encourage or not the political participation.
The individual resources are related to the access to the information, the free time and the scholarship of the people. Those aspects are closely linked when people vote, although they represent a hindrance for most of the people who live in small towns. This is due to the low levels of reading literacy and the low schooling, which are marked mostly in the towns than in the cities, and make the electoral decision a difficult one for the information gathering, alternatives’ identification and the candidate selection required.
Although most of people have access to the Internet, they do not use it as a tool to seek out information about the candidates and their proposals. This is due mainly to the selflessness and distrust of the people toward politicians.
Moreover, in the last few years social media has played an important role as well as the political marketing campaigns. Those online resources are attracting increasing interest. However, the information can be manipulated easily to influence in the behavior of the possible voters and many people aren’t aware of that. Consequently, accessing to unbiased information become difficult to find or very limited.
Finally, another issue that has present the small towns is the influence of the major and leaders, which choose to support a candidate for their own interests and persuade the ones who do not know about politics to make the same election.
If that’s not enough, eight of ten Colombians, do not vote. During the 52 years in which Colombians have elected President of the Republic, the abstention has been somehow the winner of the electoral elections. This can be attributed to the factors just mentioned and determine the interest of certain groups, which will dominate the political decisions.
To sum up, there are different factors (low individual resources, political selflessness and other influences) which seed the ignorance of the people. Nevertheless, a possible solution to this problem have to go beyond the institutional changes to promote the electoral participation, and focus more on education programs that boost an intelligent vote. A vote that demonstrates political, economic and social knowledge of the citizens. For this is necessary to become more conscious of the importance of voting, because it is a decision that determines the future of everyone in Colombia, not just a few.