"Low Voter Turn Out"
Oct 20, 2000 Volume 10 no. 36
Congressional Quarterly Inc
Internet Web Site/Butte College Library
Is America's democracy in trouble? Our forefathers might think so. They believed the very fabric and essence of our fledgling republic depended upon an informed and fully engaged voting public. This thought provoking opening question hooks the reader in Mary H. Cooper's piece, Low Voter Turnout. The fact that we have such a low voter turnout in America compared to both our historical past and other countries currently, is just a non-debatable fact. We collectively as a country do not value voting. We don't see the point....and that says it all. It's not just apathy she is illustrating here, but a more serious civic disengagement that eats away at our very foundation. Mary describes it as a "lost sense of community" that costs us far more than just political consequences, but threatens our very way of life. Voter turn out peaked in 1960 with 63% of the electorate taking part. Since the mid-nineties America's voter turn out has been less than 50%. The net result is lack of representation for the people who vote less often, the young, the disenfranchised, and people of color. This has tilted the economic table toward businesses and away from everyday people. The data shows that people who don't take part politically just don't see how what they hear from politicians translates into anything tangible to their lives. She also shows how uninformed we are on both sides. Most of our information on issues comes from small sound bits and bad press. Mary paints a picture that has far reaching implications for those who don't vote, the kind that most people have never considered.
I was intrigued by this piece because of the actual costs and ramifications of low voter turn out. I was basically brain washed into believing it was my civic duty as a proud and grateful American to vote. Especially in light of the fact that so many brave American men and women have given their lives so I can just be free. The statistics were graphic and dramatic. We don't see ourselves in relation to our fellow countrymen the same anymore. Mainly because of technological advances we are much more independent. We all need to interact with each other face to face far far less. I was a little surprised at the evidence that low voter turn out has economic and social costs to the ones who don't take part. When the people making the rules to this games stop representing you, you lose. It can be hard to see the direct effect because it can take years to trickle down. Everything in this world comes down to money and power. If you don't have a lot of both, you better start voting and signing up your friends.
This article is tying in nicely with the whole middle class in decline theme I've been led to. It shed light on how a lot of what is happening, if not ultimately all, is our own fault. We need to take responsibility for all that is good and bad in our country. Stop blaming and start fixing some of this things. With low voter turn out, we don't need 100% turn out to be successful, just enough to function properly, or the more the better.