Democracy at its Most Complacent


Hurry Up and Wait. ‘Merica.

Man… we are lame.

Official numbers aren’t officially tallied quite yet, but estimates put our Voter Turnout for 2016 somewhere in the neighborhood of 56%.

Fifty. Six. Percent.

If you took at your cues from social media, you would swear that 100% of eligible voters turned out (plus some dead guys voting, of course) and each and every one of us is a political pundit who has the “true” pulse of the nation. Polls, op-ed’s, TV segments with 19 talking heads cramped onto a studio set table – we feel like a society filled with civic-minded politicos that are plugged in to the issues facing our republic.

Then… a super gaggle (political term) of us sit home on Election Day.

You know, for the World’s Greatest Democracy, we are sure pretty crappy at getting out and performing the glorious action of a free and democratic selected leadership.  What’s the deal?

So, why? Why is this such a slog to get us all to get out and vote?

Well some of it is apathy, disinterest and cynicism.  There will always be a percentage of the population that flat out won’t be too thrilled about the election. It’s like that guy in your group when you pick a place to go eat and he mutters, “Sure.. I guess that will be okay.” And then proceeds to whine all evening about the service, the portions, the steak’s overcooked, and the crème brûlée being too runny. Jerk.

But the rest of us… what’s the problem? I have a couple of factors that just can’t be overlooked as to why our democracy is just a tad light on the whole democratically elected thang.

  1. Tuesday Sucks.  What in the name of churned butter are we still doing with elections taking place on the first Tuesday of November? Why Tuesday? One dumb law. From 1845.  Yep. That’s right. Our “Most Powerful Democracy in the World” status hinges on a stupid law that was done PRE Civil War.  See, when folks were thinking about voting, they allowed for travel (to and fro) and since one couldn’t travel on the Sabbath (you know, because of God and the New England Patriots kicking off at 1pm EST)… Tuesday was picked. The End.  Talk about an anti-climatic explanation for our institution of representative democracy in action…. the consideration of “Trigger the Horse” and how it would be wicked long to get to the county courthouse from “East Lostinthewoods.”  C’mon  people! We’re better than that?! Let’s undo this dopey reason, and give ourselves a proper Election Day: make it a national holiday! Have the election on Saturday! Any of these options beats this Tuesday thing!  Tied to this is….
  2. Everyboday’s Workin’ For The Weekend.  Thank you, Loverboy.  You know what the #1 reason for not voting is? “Too busy/Couldn’t Get Off Time At Work” The irony. One of the most consistent political talking points and issue in just about every election is “jobs” and “job creation” and yet a job is the top reason so many of us missed voting! By creating a day where everyone would be free to make it to the polls unencumbered by a J-O-B would spike the turnout massively (see point #1).
  3. Can I Get A Lift?  Polls are set up in a whole lot of venues. Schools, libraries, churches, and community centers make up  a good percentage of the polling stations, but still there’s the “how do I get there?” question the always looms. Let’s face it. If you have a couple of cars and a good job, you probably never considered this an issue. But if you are without wheels, getting to certain places is a logistic nightmare.  Municipalities can make the process more convenient by offering free bus rides. Setting up special “Poll Shuttles” or getting creative with transportation businesses and services to make getting to the polls safe and easy. Think it’s too much to budget for such things? ….what, you mean we can offer to make our DEMOCRACY more inclusive?! There’s no better use of taxpayers’ dollars than to help – oh, I don’t know – TAXPAYERS get out and vote!
  4. WWW.THISSHOULDBEDONEONLINE.COM.  Seriously, it’s 2016. We have FitBits, Netflix, and Drones. You can get meals delivered to your door weekly, do all your banking from your laptop, and even spend an entire day getting lost in the rabbit hole that is Reddit.. but we can’t yet vote online? Seems to me building a secure site and system wouldn’t have any more security concerns than our banks, credit cards, or my membership to “Pocket Square On Demand” (don’t judge, I love me a fresh pocket square in my jacket.)
  5. Media Madness.  Seems like every four years, the same ol’ media angles are processed through our TVs and into our brains. There’s the “let stand outside and show you the MASSIVE line that isn’t moving too much” live shot; of course, there is also the “I’m inside the polling site but I can’t talk to anyone because they are too busy handling this here big line” sh0t; next up, we have the “gaggle of voter officials huddling around the broken poll machine” angle…. and so on and so one. What do all these “storylines” have in common? All basically say to those who are on-the-fence about voting, “Hey Mr. Not-So-Sure Voter. It’s a madhouse here at Sister Mary’s of the Poor Polling Station #3. Maybe you ought to sit this one out. It sure is nutty busy here!”  Maybe we could reduce the number of unnecessary media coverage non-stories and focus on the optimism of getting out to the polls and voting. All that talk about voter fraud, broken machines, and long lines creates even more reasons for some of us to just call off the whole “get activated” thing around election time.

voter_turnout_boothThe 2016 election was indeed one for the history books. Whether you voted for President-Elect Donald J. Trump or not, this year’s election will go down as one of the most contentious, most negative, and most unconventional in recent time.  But with all the, well, amazing headlines that could come from this bonkers election season, only one for me is going to stick and make me wonder…

With only 56% of eligible voters participating… what would have happened with the other 44% get into the arena?  If we want to demand more of our candidates, expect more from our elected officials, and hold our local, state and national governments to a higher standard of excellence.. we must all first get into the game.

Because as the man said, Just Do ItMake Your Dreams Election Participation Come True!