I’ve been thinking about the Democratic Process this morning as I often do. (Yeah, I know, I lead such an exciting life….) It was spurred by a question my Mom posted to her Facebook page expressing frustration with the current political situation and asking in all earnestness if anyone could convince her of any good reason why she should continue to vote.
It should be no surprise that a lengthy debate ensued with many opinions and tangents expressed. But it really got me to thinking and I thought I’d share my response with you here.
The basic question under discussion essentially boiled down to this: Should you (or any of us) continue to vote?
The short answer is yes. But that certainly bears some lengthier explanation.
I am not sure really how much individual votes actually count anymore it’s true. I really believe that our original Electoral College system is far too easily gamed. Individual votes can easily get lost, discounted or simply disregarded.
However, I would still urge you all to continue to vote. As my old friend Ben Gulacsi put it, “if ya don’t vote, ya shouldn’t complain”. That sounds harsh, I know, especially in light of the argument that individual votes don’t necessarily count.
The problem ultimately, with not voting, is that it encourages a form of political apathy. It represents a refusal to participate at the most basic level of our “Democracy”.
Right now, many of us are pretty pissed off at our leaders, even the ones who are supposed to be “on our side”. Frankly I think both parties are to blame for the current crisis. The Republicans for being willing to play chicken with our national economy and ultimately putting average Americans into a situation where we are likely to face an even greater downturn in the current recession. Democrats for being too cowardly to make a stand, too willing to just give in and give up on their principles.
And how have we gotten here? How have we gotten to a point where the Super Rich are able to essentially purchase “Democracy”? Apathy. People who are willing to let their elected representatives do their jobs behind closed doors with little to no real constituent accountability. An electorate who are more than willing to look no further for their news than what they get from the corporate mouthpieces of the big media outlets.
I’m not talking about merely Fox News and the Murdock Media Empire here either. I’m talking about CNN, The New York Times, AOL, Yahoo, Time Magazine, etc.. There is real information out there, but in this internet age, you have to not only dig for it, you have to be able to think for yourself. You have to be able to sort the wheat from the chaff. And have a willingness to go to the original sources.
And that requires an active and interested engagement with the political process. Take the Tea Party for example. They may be more corporately funded that they like to appear and I would probably disagree with 90% of the platforms they are pushing for. But I admire their zeal. Their political cohesion and their ability to mobilize the vote. Heck, I envy them! As much as I think they are being spoon-fed massive amounts of disinformation, at least they f—king care!!
An interview with a reporter talking about lobbying groups I was listening to recently, talked about the importance of politics at the state level and why so many of these conservative PACS were focusing on influencing legislation at that level. Basically it boiled down to the idea that while the media tends to be overly focused on what’s going on at the national level, the real change comes from the local level. This is a Republic, it’s important to remember. A collection of affiliated States, each with a distinct social tone relatively unique to that geographic region.
If you can influence change in enough of those parts, it will inevitably effect the larger whole.
Finally, a specific example of what I’m talking about here in regards to the importance of voting, the effects of apathy and the reality of change coming from local levels, would be the still fairly recent election of Scott Brown (R) to The United States Senate from our great State Of Massachusetts. Nobody here thought that a Tea Party supported Republican had a snowball’s chance in hell of being elected to the Senate seat that had been held by Democratic Lion, Ted Kennedy for so very many years. Certainly not the State Democratic Party. But Scott Brown, like him or not, went out there and WORKED for the vote. He spoke to constituents. He got people energized. He ASKED for people’s vote.
Meanwhile, the leadership of the Mass Dems just sat back and figured the usual suspects would do as they had always done and elect the Democratic Candidate. They underestimated the will of the people. They took the electorate for granted.
And we all got f—ked because of it. Of course Scott Brown got elected! He wanted it. He worked for it. And people who agreed with his views or who simply were dissatisfied with the Status Quo, VOTED for him.
As Stan Lee would say, “’Nuff said.”