I’ve long thought that voting in elections was more than just a civic duty, but an essential part of maintaining our democratic republic. I never understood how roughly half of those eligible to have a say in the leadership of this nation simply decide to forgo casting a ballot – until now.
Voting trends since 1960 reflect a growing disdain or disconnect between the populace of this country and the government that is supposed to represent it. (Presidential election years in bold)
The last time a presidential election saw turnout top 60% was 43 years ago and it’s been over 40 years since a mid-term election topped 40%!
Governors, Senators, and representatives in off-year elections (non-presidential elections) are not awarded majorities – they are being selected by literally winning less than 20% of the eligible vote. When only 36% of voters show up at the polls, you simply need to win half – 18 to 19% is plenty to push you over the top and get a seat in government. It’s much easier to motivate 18% of the public than it is to get 50% behind your rhetoric.
America still suffers from a Watergate mentality – distrusting government to do anything more than what is in the government’s interest. The 1.5% bump in voter turnout in the 2008 election, largely attributable to idealistic youth, will surely evaporate in the 2012 as once-new voters have come to the realization that The Who had it right in 1971 – “meet the new boss, same as the old boss…”
I anticipate the 2012 election will rival the 1996 election in voter turnout – the only election in the last 50 years to have less than half the voting public bother showing up. Liberals and Democrats have lost faith in President Obama’s leadership (as though it ever existed in the first place) while Republicans are divided on a candidate that can truly represent their interests. Texas governor Rick Perry is your likely GOP nominee, and while some will be motivated by an “anyone but Obama” slogan and line up to cast a vote for “anyone else,” it is hardly an endorsement of Perry and his brand of politics.
I’d be lying if I didn’t find it ironic that since Perry began his Pray for Rain campaign in the Spring, Texas has literally turned into an inferno – almost a “hell” on earth if you will. I’d also be lying if I said that Perry doesn’t scare the crap out of me. His marriage of politics and religion and malleable view on the constitution of the country I stoutly believe would be more harmful to this nation than another four years adrift under Obama.
While we’re on the subject of Reverend Rick’s presidential qualifications, I would be remiss if I didn’t point out that while Texas is experiencing possibly the worst drought ever this side of the Sahara, millions of gallons of fresh water are being pumped daily into the ground for hydro-fracturing , or fracking.
That said, I cannot find a compelling reason to support Obama in the next election. My only motivation would be to vote against the Texas governor. And while that may be how it plays out in 2012, at this point staying home on November 6th seems as viable an option as voting for either candidate. I think the late George Carlin put it about as eloquently as I’ve ever heard. Click on the video below for the wisdom of the great master Carlin.