We Have Met The Enemy – And It Is Us.

Elections matter.  Just look at the recent Supreme Court decisions.  Five Justices nominated by Republicans voted one way; four nominated by Democrats voted the other.  The state legislatures have gerrymandered the districts so the party in charge stays in charge.  And the U.S. House of Representatives is representative indeed – of those gerrymandered districts.  This is true representative democracy at its finest. So that’s why we are in this fix.

But it didn’t have to be that way. We made it like that.

In the last presidential election only 57.5 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. That’s down from 62.3 percent in 2008. And that’s just every four years.  Average turnout in non-presidential years, when one third of the Senate and 100 percent of the House are elected, runs about 41 percent, meaning nearly 60 percent stay home.

Compare this to other countries, The International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance in Stockholm ranked the United States 139th out of 172 countries in voter turnout for parliamentary elections.

But just looking at the most recent presidential elections – and eliminating those nations with compulsory voting – we did much better, coming in at 42nd.  The top five are: Rwanda, Turkmenistan, Equatorial Guinea, Maldives and Sierra Leone. Even France came in way above us at 17th with 80 percent of the population going to the polls.  We are down between Mongolia and the Republic of the Congo.

Why we do this to ourselves? There are many answers, some likely and others fanciful, but that’s for another blog post. Let’s just consider what this means for the United States. What did that 40 percent of registered voters who didn’t bother to vote get by staying home?

  • Gridlock in Congress, with constant pressure to shut the government down altogether.
  • A federal “hodgepodge” of states where gerrymandered districts create monstrous irregularities, such as anti-labor laws and non-stop actions to suppress the votes of people likely to vote against the state’s majority.
  • More and more gun legislation sponsored by the NRA – despite national sentiment that shows 90 percent of Americans want expanded background checks. Even NRA members want it.

NRA-support-for-background-checks

Do we have majority representation in Congress? Today there are 234 Republicans and only 199 Democrats in the House. Approximately 54-46 percent – despite the fact that Democrats won one million more votes than the GOP in the last election.

But that’s the way the system works. The United States is a federated republic.  And in less vitriolic times that seemed to work better than it does today.  But that’s then and this is now and we are living in a very fractious era.

We have done this to ourselves. We have achieved this morass by failing to care enough about the issues to do something about it.  Even the smallest thing. Voting. People who care about issues vote. Otherwise, as Count Joseph de Maistre said about Russia in 1811:

“Every nation gets the government it deserves.”

 

 

3 thoughts on “We Have Met The Enemy – And It Is Us.

  1. Barbara Byer says:

    Absolutely true. Part of the issue is that the times and days available to vote are shrinking and voting via the internet is not allowed. Working folk too often have to take a day off from work which they can’t afford to do not to mention the hours voters have had to spend in endless lines. Instead of creating ways to expand voting percentages, the government has spent endless hours trying to keep it as low as possible. Couldn’t agree with you more. It’s not only sad, these are dangerous times.

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  2. Finally, our IT specialist walked me through the process so I can now comment on your great (so far) blogs.

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  3. rodger11 says:

    All of the statistics that were quoted are true, but what would happen if 100% of the people went to the polls? Other than the presidential candidates most non-voters don’t know who is running for lower offices (or even what those lower offices are) or what issues are involved.

    When they do know the candidates names and parties they believe they know for whom they should be voting, but don’t really know the details or why “their candidate” is for or against a particular issue.

    In 2010 over 60% of voters in Florida amended the state constitution to ban gerrymandering. The state legislature (Republican controlled since 2002 redistricting) re-did all the district lines in 2012 based (supposedly) on those guidelines. This week a judge said “do it over” as they gerrymandered districts anyway. Because of appeals by the Republican Party they will keep the newly gerrymandered districts for the 2014 elections.

    Yes, nationally more people voted for Democratic candidates than for Republican ones. And there are more registered Democrats than Republicans in Florida. But all these Democrats tend to be tightly clustered in urban areas – a sort of self-gerrymandering.

    Money in politics – not teaching civics in school – lack of critical thinking – self gratification of Facebook, Twitter, etc. leaving no time for reading or discussion of events with peers …… all related topics for more blogs.

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