We We Don’t Vote and Why it Sucks

America has a voting problem. We don’t vote, and we are losing our democracy as a result, pure and simple. I am not railing at those who don’t.  I am speaking to those who proudly declare that either they are voting third party/write in, or who otherwise do vote, but will decline to do so any time their preferred candidate didn’t get the nomination. I know full well entirely too few people vote at all. (and it’s not just the ‘bottom’ who doesn’t vote, BTW. The left has far lower numbers than the right, and it’s not just lower-income demographics that stay away in droves.) There is not one single, monolithic reason for that; it’s way more complex a question for one answer. 

In the middle class and above segment of the left, it is a lot to do with complacency and a far too elevated sense of superiority. Disdain for the process doesn’t do much to change it, either. Politics is messy work, and sideliners who stick their principled noses in the air have no right to bitch when it doesn’t play out the way they like. Don’t like it? Get the hell in the fight, don’t just vote, get involved: be an alderman, participate actively in your state and local government; know every single one of your representatives at every level from city to federal by heart, and have them on speed dial. Put in hours volunteering in the political process.  Way too damn few people do that, especially on the left, even those with the resources to do so. 

In other cases, of course, it is a matter of disenfranchisement. And in some, it’s a lack of education (or access TO education) either about the process or generally. Don’t forget, there are a heck of a lot of middle-class college kids who can’t name the three branches of government or who fought the Civil War either. It’s our sound bite culture that values Top Model over Meet the Press, that thinks being educated is laughable or elitist or ‘dumb,’ that science is worthless, and that by default experts don’t know what they’re talking about. That’s why people don’t vote; they don’t care. They’re not racked up outside the process, noses pressed to the glass yearning for entry into it; it’s not even on their radar. Yes, there are those who are legitimately disenfranchised; voter ID laws and Citizens United have promoted that for sure. But overall, we, as a nation, don’t care about politics, don’t understand politics and don’t care to put in the work. A rather dippy movie put it quite wisely: “America is advanced citizenship; you have to want it bad.”  I don’t know what paragons you think were running in any election ever, when voter turnout was high, but it’s NEVER been because any candidate was perfect or universally beloved. That’s more of the ‘make America great again’ bullshit. Politics has never been about having ideal choices, it’s always been a game of compromise. The difference is we once had a populace that understood that fact, because they had studied civics in grade school, read a newspaper once in a while (reported by serious people no less, more concerned with facts than agendas), knew the difference between a demagogue and a serious person, and actually understood the issues and realities of politics and government. We don’t have that now.

This entry was posted in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink.