Ethics Dunces: Non-Voting Americans

“Eh, what’s was the big deal?”

Amazingly, after all the ink spilled and  broadcast blather about how vital this election is to the future of the nation, it now appears that fewer eligible Americans cared enough to haul their butts to the polls than four years ago. Did anyone predict this? I sure didn’t. With an unusually stark choice and the intensifying of social media, I assumed that intensity levels would be higher, or certainly as high, as 2008.  The conservatives and Republicans in particular, who had all their heralds proclaiming death and destruction, forty years of darkness, earthquakes, volcanoes, the dead rising from the grave, human sacrifice, dogs and cats living together—I’m either quoting “Ghostbusters” now or Mark Levin—and uber-blogger Glenn Reynolds warning of the “broken glass factor,” with anti-Obama patriots so energized that they would be “crawling over broken glass” to reach the polls, flopped like a dead fish in Sonny Corleone’s lap. All the pundits are wondering how it is that a liberal President with low approval ratings and high unemployment could win the election in a nation that is supposedly “center right”?  What’s the mystery? Less than 60% of that public cared enough to participate in their own government! Who knows or cares what they believe or think–they can’t be bothered to do anything. If conservatives are horrified and angry, let them be horrified and angry at those who may have agreed with them but who abdicated their duty as Americans because they were too lazy to follow the issues, too illiterate to understand the positions, too complacent to work for change, too irresponsible to share the burden of self-government.

Hurray and congratulations to the caring Americans who did vote; they deserve to have their views carry the day. They are worthy of the legacy handed down to them by the Founders. No one should blame them for the results of the election; it’s not their fault if the opposition couldn’t haul itself out of bed or away from the bar long enough to vote.

The real and ominous question is whether a democracy with nearly half of its population so passive, uninvolved and apathetic can govern itself effectively; whether we can meet the increasing challenges we face as a people with nearly half our number as dead weight, and I’m not talking about what they pay or don’t pay in taxes. I’m talking about not giving a damn.

Citizenship is a an ethical value, and one of the most critical ones. Let us stop blaming the judgement of the Americans who embodied it yesterday, when the real problem is those who did not.

[ In the musical “1776,” a plaintive letter from George Washington decrying from the battlefield his lack of support from Congress (“Is anybody there?”–an actual letter), inspires John Adams, alone in Constitution Hall and despairing of enough allies to make independence a reality, to sing about his vision for a great and independent America. “Does anybody care?” he asks. The song, the climax of the musical can be heard in the video below. The answer to his question, sadly, is in the post above.]




Graphic: The Daily Beast

20 thoughts on “Ethics Dunces: Non-Voting Americans

  1. In an earlier post I waxed in vain about why and how people vote… for all the wrong reasons. I blame Americans for not voting, and I blame the left-leaning mainstream media for blatantly ignoring key issues that voters should have known about, and the media’s general approach that Obama was a lock and that Romney a rich, uncaring white guy who wouid hurt the “little guy.”

    If you REALLY want power in this country, get into the media. IT decides what is news, IT analyzes issues, IT decides what we should and show not know. We do NOT have a free press: we have a bunch of slanted. unethical decision-makers who do not give the general public the means to decide what’s important and what’s not, who’s “good” and who’s “bad,” what “progress” we’ve made, and what we haven’t. We might as well have “Pravda” telling us “the truth.”

    This does not excuse the average American who didn’t bother to vote. We get what we deserve. On the other hand, ignoramuses voting on single issue, personal impact-only bases is worse. I’m just as glad if these morons stay home. If you don’t know what you’re talking about, and what is going on across the nation and the world, by all means stay out of the mix. We don’t need more voters — we need informed voters, not emotional and ignorant ones. If you can’t or won’t see the bigger picture, just sit back with your TV and watch re-runs of “Family Feud.” You’ll be doing is all a favor.

  2. The problem is compounded that the limited times that the polls are open. Most working blue collar workers are at work before the polls are open and by they get off work , get other things done , like picking up kids from school and other errands the polls are closed. I’m not excusing people not voting but I think that we need to make it easier for people to vote. I think a serious consideration needs to be made to having the election over a couple days and over a weekend. I think that would make it more accessible to people and raise the number of people who would vote .

    • It already is. Early voting…

      among the most anti-civic notions around.

      Whatever happened to the community event of Election **DAY**

      Make it a national holiday. All the money used to keep polls open for upwards of a month in advance, should be used to just open more polling sites on the day of to reduce lines.

      Also, on the topic of lines. BOO HOO. If you hold your privilege to vote (a privilege that only a minor percentage of the 8 billion people on this planet actually have) in such low esteem that you can’t wait in line for 2-4 hours on one day, every 2-4 years, you may wanna reconsider your value system.

      • If voters have to wait 2-4 hours to vote then that is incompetent management. I have never had to wait any longer than 5 minutes.

        • Not necessarily. For example, in Virginia, they changed the system back to a paper ballot. You had to fill in the little boxes, then feed the ballot into a machine at a different station. There was also a lot to read. The process, which used to take 5 minutes, took me close to 15, and I was quicker than most. It was a little confusing, and the volunteers were a little confused with the new system.

        • That’s a condemnation of polling officials, not a reprieve for people in line.

          Sorry your polling officials are inefficient, still does not reduce the SACRED IMPORTANCE of exercising your right to vote regardless of an inconvenient line.

      • It depends what else you could be doing for those 2 to 4 hours. If you’ve got a job, chances are that skipping the election and earning a few more hours pay will make a much greater contribution to your family’s quality of life than your vote ever would. The mystery is not why people don’t vote, but why they do.

  3. On the other hand, the real issue should be about the large majority who don’t know or care about our system and its attendant necessity for participation. In a sense, I am glad they don’t vote. They will decide based on superficiality rather than the issues at hand. We don’t let children vote because they are not mature enough to make an informed decision. It is just as well that the bozos watching Kim Kardashian keep their hands out of the pot by their own shallowness. I fault them. But their fault existed long before election day.

    • Oh, I am 100% in the camp of those who believe ignorant voters do nobody any good, and that in increase in voters, if they are clueless, is a net negative. An awful lot of those non-voters, however, have strong opinions about national matters, and are as informed as the typical voter. I just don’t care to hear any complaints from those people.

  4. I am shocked anyone is surprised by this. Mitt Romney was a terrible Republican candidate. There didn’t even seem to be any good ones in the running and perhaps that is because CNN got to decide who the candidates were for the primary (by choosing the candidates for the debates). Romney didn’t really articulate a realistic plan for solving our national debt and deficit problem. He didn’t really have a good plan for the economy. I don’t know any Republicans who were more than lukewarm about him (even the Mormon ones). Obama has been, quite frankly, a weasel of a president. He takes responsibility for nothing (is he going to blame Bush for all the problems in his second term, too), seems horribly racially biased in his interests (Black Panthers in uniform with weapons in front of polling places, no problem… Black man who breaks into his house in full view of bystanders questioned by the police, call a press conference to denounce racist actions), seems to have advisors and appointees worthy of a Chicago mayor, and is spending this country into ruin (in Bush’s 4 years, the debt went up by $4.5 trillion, under 4 years of Obama, it went up $6.2 trillion). I also find him about as trustworthy as Clinton and I suppose that is why he has chosen Clinton as his spokesman so often. I wish Gary Johnson had been on my ballot. I don’t agree with many of his positions, but I agree on him with things that he is most likely able to do something about. I would have voted for him and prayed for a miriacle that he win. Unfortunately, I was denied even this. It is impossible for third party candidates to get on the ballot in my state and write-ins aren’t allowed. I am a slave to the two noble houses who own the elections in this country and all candidates that I vote for must pledge loyalty to one of them.

    That about sums up my sense of disillusionment with the political process today. I did vote, but I needed a shower afterwards. I understand those who couldn’t stomach it this year. I feels some sympathy for the Soviet voters who went to the polls year after year to vote for the one candidate on the ballot. I want a “none of the above” option on every office on every ballot. Wouldn’t that truly be democracy?

  5. I honestly can’t decide which is worse – the citizen who has opinions, knows what’s going on, and makes no effort to steer the ship in the direction he percieves to be the best course, or the bumbling idiot who has no idea what is going on, yet refuses to take his hands off the wheel. The one can see the storm, yet makes no effort to avoid it – and honestly complains once it is upon us; the other has his eyes clamped tight – how anyone could claim to have been paying attention, yet be unable to articulate even one proposal by either candidate is beyond me. I throw my hands in the air – each is worse than the other, and working together they will doom us all.

  6. Every time I vote in New York State the next day I wonder why I bothered? If you’re not a liberal democrat your vote generally doesn’t count. I’m an independent and vote for who I feel is the lesser of two evils.

    In Presidential races as long as the states give the electoral college all of the votes to the party who gets the most votes ignoring all of the opposition, VOTES DO NOT COUNT.

    • A fallacy. They don’t count until they do. Once you accept that reasoning, then you can make the same argument about the popular vote without the electoral college. Even in New York—what won was massive group identification loyalty from minorities. Obama lost the non-minority vote in New York—there were enough conservatives out there to win New York for Romney, if they didn’t decide that their votes didn’t matter. This is a self-fulfilling prophesy.

  7. I live in a jurisdiction where voting is compulsory.

    Actually that’s neither technically nor practically true. You have to turn up at a polling booth, you have to take a ballot, but you don’t have to fill it in, the legislation protects the right of anyone to not cast a valid vote.

    The few places that use voting machines have to have them programmed to both help people who want to cast a valid vote not accidentally cast an invalid one, yet allow deliberate invalid votes.

    The penalty for not turning up to vote is…. $10.

    Postal votes are available, but only to those who sign a stat dec giving the reason (usually health or travel) why they can’t poll up.

    The practical effect of this system is that in Australia, people follow politics with the same enthusiasm as people follow baseball or gridiron in the US. Since they have to turn up to vote, they figure they may as well learn something about the issues and candidates, even if just a superficial knowledge, and actually cast a meaningful, valid ballot.

    It seems to work. It also helps that we order candidates preferentially. You may not know who to vote for, but I guarantee you’ll find some to vote against.

  8. ,a href=”–u-s-election-sees-fewer-voters-in-2012″>Fourteen million fewer people voted in this election

    Think about it.

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