start with a chart (because I know you love charts)…
that in place, let’s talk politics.
Hey! Wait! Come back! I don’t mean talk politics with names and
causes and incidents. No. I promise, no candidates will be mentioned.
Ok? Cool. Thanks.)
is an essay that hopefully will give you a bit of a figurative
smack. Something to get you moving. A call to action of sorts.
is happening in local, state and national politics. Trick is,
the vast majority of us don’t care. And it turns out that not
only don’t we care, that don’t care has a control knob. On standard
and routine days… majority of people… knob sits around a 2. Make
a story scandalous and exciting… we might actually pay a bit of
attention, care just a smidgeon, and that control knob might even
head toward 11 if you can toss in some really saucy elements.
The main concept being simple enough… day to day, nothing too
far out of the realm of ordinary… the vast majority of us really
pay no attention to politicians and government activities. We
need rumors and gossip and spice. Watch…
you know the next open government-centered meeting of any kind
scheduled in your city or town? Any meeting. Any meeting at all.
I don’t care if you actually miss the next meeting (or two or
three or a dozen) that are on the town calendar. You don’t need
the very next meeting. Just give me an upcoming meeting of any
kind in the next three or four months and I’ll give you credit.
(Maybe you do happen to know about the regular zoning board or
town council get together. I doubt it.)
not even going to wait for answers. My bet is that everyone knows
the majority of people reading this essay are going to answer
“nope” to the question. (Heck, I’m writing this essay, and by
a quirk in house location I’m not even sure what local town hall
I should be looking up to find the information for meetings that
apply to me. (That’s a joke, but you’d be surprised how many people
read that, laughed, and thought about their home location while
thinking “tell me about it”.))
point is… general city council meeting… for most people, that’s
out notices of property tax increases though and heads will pop
up all over the place. Attack the wallet and people will pay attention.
about excitement. It’s about dollars and sense. It’s about personal
stakes. And that’s a way of leading us back to the chart.
you haven’t figured it out already, that chart is about elections.
Going back over about eight national election years, the two columns
reflect whether or not it was a presidential election. (You do
know 2016 was a presidential election and 2014 was not. Right?)
And the percentages?
did a decent look around the internet for the percentages of eligible
voters in each election. And while most places agree on numbers
that are fairly close, I did have to adjust them a bit… round
off the edges. (Not by much… but to explain what I mean: Some
places put the rates of 2006 at 40.4%, and a few differed in 2010
by going as high as 42%. 2016 results (and actually, most of these)
are still considered estimates on most sites. And as an added
bonus, there are places that use registered voters for their numbers,
while others base it on the overall voting age population numbers.)
Here’s why my rounding numbers up or down slightly—or perhaps
your searches finding numbers one or two percentage points different—doesn’t
main point is to show that of eligible voters, an amazing
number of people don’t vote. Almost every source agrees… even
as estimates… that in every presidential election since 1972,
40% or more of people of voting age didn’t vote. Think about
that… significantly more than a third of the people that could
to that is what happened in those years when we aren’t electing
a president. Massive do-not-care sets in, and well over half
of the people that could vote decided not to show up. Basically,
one out of three voters that were motivated to cast a ballot
for a president decided they had better things to do this
it’s getting worse.
numbers from 2014 have been marked as the lowest level of eligible
voter turnout since 1942. (And for those of you not immediately
connecting dots, the low 1942 results were in part attributed
to the war. You know… that big war that was going on… when some
voters might have been a bit preoccupied.)
point is, you really to spin that knob up to 11. We need you to
care. You really need to vote. Whether you love the way things
are going or hate the way things are going, voting is a way to
make your voice heard.
seen plenty of examples where one vote has mattered. Perhaps not
specifically a single vote, but numbers so low where a hundred
people in this city… a thousand in this state… might have changed
the results. Numbers where, when you look at results where comfortably
more than a third of voters decided to stay home… results where
comfortably more than half of voters decided to stay home… it
might have been different if 90%, 80%, 70%, or even just 65% of
voters made an appearance.
are numbers that say… if popular vote was the determining factor…
national elections without a president involved, we are at
or below 40% of voters showing up. Think about this for a
moment, because in those situations just 21% of those that
can vote need to agree. 21% of eligible voters can win a major
I stretching things a bit here? Yes, a little bit. But not by
much. It’s not a stretch at all to suggest that mobilizing the
vote can be the single most important factor in deciding an election.
Any election. If you get the right groups of people into the voting
booths, you don’t need the majority of the people in order to
win… you just need the majority of those voting, and that does
not need to be a massive percentage of the voting population.
(Because in 2018… if it follows 2014 and 2010 and 2006 and 2002…
three out of five voters are going to stay home.)
are some people that are extremely happy with the way things are
going in Washington right now, as well as how things are going
in their home state and home town. And that’s fantastic.
are some people that are massively upset and disappointed in the
same results. Not fantastic to be the situation for them, but
absolutely their right.
way, if you want things to continue or if you want things to change,
the only way to have a voice in that happening is to vote.
right now are playing a game when it comes to elections. They
are not looking to please everyone. They are not always looking
to do what many of us would view as make the correct decision
when considering right and wrong. All they are trying to do is
connect the pieces together that get them to a magic number.
you want to see a political shake up… a massive bolt of electricity
rippling through government… all it would take is getting 50%
of voters out this November.