Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why 90 million Americans won't vote in November

From USA Today courtesy of Bill Moyer's facebook page:

Even in 2008, when turnout was the highest in any presidential election since 1960, almost 80 million eligible citizens didn't vote. Curtis Gans, director of the non-partisan Center for the Study of the American Electorate, predicts that number will rise significantly this year. He says turnout could ebb to levels similar to 2000, when only 54.2% of those eligible to vote cast a ballot. That was up a bit from 1996, which had the lowest turnout since 1924.

This year, perhaps 90 million Americans who could vote won't. "The long-term trend tends to be awful," Gans says. "There's a lot of lack of trust in our leaders, a lack of positive feelings about political institutions, a lack of quality education for large segments of the public, a lack of civic education, the fragmenting effects of waves of communications technology, the cynicism of the coverage of politics — I could go on with a long litany."

More here.

Before I started teaching, I used to think that people who "home school" their children are a bunch of crackpots. Actually, most of them are crackpots, coming, as they do, from the various fundamentalist sects. But after a few years in the field and the new understanding of schooling I eventually developed, I became sympathetic toward these people. Sure, they've come to their conclusions from a different perspective, but I agree with the basics: the schools are fucked up beyond all recognition; teaching at home can't possibly be worse, and is maybe even better.

Same thing with voting. Like most Americans, I had the civic duty thing drilled into me for years when I was coming up in the public schools. We are Americans; this is what we do. Or, if you don't vote, you have no right to complain. I mean, even though I've really come to the conclusion, myself, that voting, at least in presidential elections, is a pointless exercise, I still do it just because I feel naked if I don't.

But the corporatization of the Democratic Party means that effectively there is never a candidate who asserts the views and principles in which I believe. I mean, sure, the Republicans have become Nazi-Lite in the last couple of decades, which means they're pretty much anathema to me, but I'm always voting against them, rather than for the Democrats. And when Democrats receive my vote, it somehow gives them my blessing of legitimacy, which I don't really want them to have, seeing as how they've been slowly moving to the right over the years, just as the Republicans have.

I mean, really, the Democrats are now a lot like the Republicans of the 80s. So the choice for me is the psycho Republicans of 2012, or the sane, but evil, Republicans of 1988. Some choice. I am not at all excited about this election. I don't feel like I, as a citizen, am consequential at all as far as the nation's fate is concerned. And I feel like participating at all in the election gives the false impression that I approve of this sorry state of affairs.

These days, I don't blame anyone at all for not voting. It makes you feel slimy. Because it makes you slimy.