The economy, cost of living, joblessness, street repair, gas prices, educational opportunities, healthcare coverage and accessibility, rampant crime, drug addiction, racism, sexism, ageism, homelessness, reproductive rights, licensing, animal abuse, your electric bill, child welfare, zoning and property taxes (Christ, all them friggin’ taxes), the environment and climate change, the endless processions of armed conflicts, the parking Nazis, domestic abuse, gun control, television content, noise pollution, litter, commercialism, immigration, bullying and that fool who almost ran you down because they were on their cell phone, blaring music and not using a turn signal or looking where they were going! There’s an APP for that!
That APP starts with a phone call, email or letter that begins with the sentence: “As a concerned voter…” However…March 25, 2012: “Less than 2 percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 turn out for primaries (Tufts University civicyouth.org) and that accounted for 8 percent of voters overall.”
Here we go: In the polling place where I work, out of 2,298 names in my book, only 108 registered voters turned out for the Presidential primary/City Councilperson-at-large elections this year. Of that number, only 14 pulled a Republican lever. Citywide, we goosed 18 percent of registered voters. In the runoff for Councilperson-at-large, we went to 23 percent. Does your vote count? The winner took the race by less than 300 votes.
However, let’s not feel like Lone Rangers in New Orleans; voter turnout in the state and, in fact the entire country, is pitiful at best. Only 61.6 percent of the registered voters turned out for the 2008 Presidential election. That this country is the leader of the free world doesn’t say much for us as voting citizens, does it?
I’m not sure of the rest of America, but here, the same people turn up to vote regularly, and I can count on seeing them coming to cast their votes. What that means is that the same people are making the decisions for all of us; especially for the complacent that don’t show up. Is voting important? Well, let’s just say that if you have any challenges with your environment in general (specifically for that matter), there is someone in the infrastructure of government that you can call and get action. That person is probably elected, and somebody voted them in; if not you…who?
Less than two-thirds of registered voters cast ballots for the last president and his opponent. They made that decision for the other one-third. They also made that choice for everyone else, including all the people that could’ve voted but didn’t register, so couldn’t cast a ballot. Does that say something to you?
Let’s be frank here; we live in an imperfect world, whether we pay attention to its iniquities or not. I personally have not met anyone without some concern/complaint.
Obama took office with 53 percent of the vote; the Bush before him at 52 percent. Question: what would have happened if a larger percentage of voters had turned out? Question: what would happen in this country if, like Australia, it was illegal NOT to vote (yep, don’t vote in Australia, and it’s gonna cost you!)? Would/should more citizens pay attention to the way their country is run and raise a voice to what happens?
There’s someone in the government infrastructure that is supposed to be looking out for us; somebody voted them in, and you and I can vote them out! One percent of the population controls 99 percent of the wealth and pays lobbyists to influence elected officials by donating to their election campaigns. That bites the big one, especially because the one percent-ers still only get one vote each. So, who’s dat fool? We dat (the we that doesn’t think that it’s important to take part in the process).
The problem of not being able to affect/ effect change occurs with a reluctance to stand up for what we believe in. Call it what you may: lethargy, indolence, apathy, weakness, powerlessness, a feeling of disenfranchisedness or just not giving a rat’s whisker until… until we run into a roadblock in our lives and realize that we have no control over the rules that have been set in place by other people who do not give a rat’s whisker about our lives, and the lives of our loved one’s; like your job being outsourced, your streets needing repair, your kid’s school or your local clinic being closed. How about having your healthcare premium skyrocket, your neighborhood park being bulldozed to make way for a big-box store, your choice of manufactured goods being limited to ones made in a third-world country, or your favorite fishing spot becoming polluted because that chemical plant upriver is allowed to dump waste in your waterways? Is this land really your land?
Has it occurred to you when you watch on your television a country going on strike, marching in the streets and confronting governments that resist the power of the people, that we have very little of that going on here? Is that because we have so much power as a people (?) or because we have nothing to complain about (?) or because we are basically the servants of the one percenters and simply incapable of making our wishes vigorously known? Is it: “Pity please the ones who serve… they only get what they deserve.”
Surely, in every society there are sheep, there are wolves, and there are shepherds who keep watch and defend against wolves because of what they do. I think we need more shepherds here; they see to what we are supposedly guaranteed in this country: the right to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
This is m y September counsel: Get a jump on it. Consider our future, debate it, get and stay informed, speak your mind, encourage voter registration and participation.