Democracy at its Most Complacent

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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!


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it’s alive!! the “frank-en-idea”

It’s amazing the things you remember… and that sometimes pop up in the brain at the weirdest times. I was just sitting here, thinking about what to write with all the necessary preparations in place: Laptop? Check. Music? Check. Adult Beverage? Check.

…then nothing.

What to write about? I’m sure I had a bunch of good ideas flowing in my head literally minutes ago, when I first said to myself “OK DK, time to write.”

Now….. ziltch.

But then, everything started snapping into place. iTunes started off my “ah-ha” moment with a little Warren Zevon and “Werewolves of London“… that (of course) brought me to thinking when I was a kid, WAAAAAY back in the day in Scranton, PA when I used to look forward to a crazy local TV show on WNEP called Uncle Ted’s Ghoul School (a shiny quarter to anyone who remembers that show! Man, it was so low-fi but as a little one it was fantastic!) Uncle Ted introduced a double feature of classic horror movies and also performed funny little magic tricks (all in a signature red Fez hat… I know, TV gold. TV. Gold.).. but I remembered, that is where I first saw movies like “American Werewolf in London”.. and that got me thinking about Frankenstein.

And that brings me here. (Did you arrive okay? I know that was a bit squirrelly. Take a second and rest………….)  To that amazing moment when you see how disparate, unconnected ideas sometimes lead to wonderful, connected concepts and ideas.

I call them “Frank-en-ideas.” (or Franken-dea’s.. don’t know yet… patent pending.)

Some of the best ideas don’t come from a single sit-down where you say “Create an idea.” At least for me, some of those cool thoughts are built over time… and space (no not Star Trek space “the final frontier” stuff.. space, like a place to be).  I think there is a definite connection that often happens between “idea parts” cobbled together from different spaces and places. A tune. A conversation topic. An image. Someone saying a buzz word. A sound. A smell.

These component alone, might be good.. but combined with others.. and boom. Nice work Doctor.. It’s Alive!

But to have this happen, I think you need to give yourself the opportunity to get these juices flowin’ and then a way to connect these dots. So, here are some suggestions to build that “Frank-en-Idea” you might realize:

1. An Idea Spot. — Be sure you have a notebook, a bar napkin from one of your favorite places to “invest in refreshment management”, a note app on your iPhone/Blackberry/Android, whatever… just have at the ready a place to collect those pop-up ideas to come throughout the day.

2. Remember “Risk-The Game” — Whenever you played Risk, the idea was simple: build your armies and take over the world. But to accomplish this, you needed to see the whole board. Who’s coming from where. Who is massing their forces in the corner that is “Australia” or who is capturing that crazy land bridge between Irkutsk and Alaska. You needed to see the big board.  Periodically step back from an initial one-shot idea and check how it looks when viewed from the world-view (aka, broaden it out to see what comes into focus, if anything.)

3. Mad Men, baby. Mad Men. — Like the drunks in that ad agency, be sure to “pitch” yourself periodically. Test the value of these ideas by giving yourself a chance to put it together in a presentation to yourself. Take 3 minutes and say “Ok you… sell this idea to me.” See where’s the gaps are, what are the holes. Then….

4. Be a Swiss Cheese Hater. — Fill those holes! What’s missing? Is it another idea? Or is it more a logistically thing (“Yeah you. That’s a great concept, but I have no idea if Transporters like on the USS Enterprise will be online and ready by the time “Tyler’s Teleportation Pizza Delivery” franchises would be up and running.”) .. challenge yourself to be the best critic and nay-sayer… plus it’s good practice to get ready for when…

5. Convene Your Focus Group. — This is easy. Tell a couple of friends “Hey, I have extra food and beer. Wanna come by?” When they get there, voila! Instant Focus Group! Give them your idea or concept and take a temperature in the room… then swear them to secrecy or patent pending legal forms so that beer glass/digital camera combo prototype does fall into the wrong hands (I’m looking at you, Canadian spies embedded in the US).

6. Yikes! And AWAY!!!! — Jump out. Do it. Get it going and start sketching out the Five W’s (who, what, where, when, and why) and see where it takes you. There will be impasses… maybe a few blocking your way… but get out there and swing it!

Frank-en-Ideas can allow your creativity, interests, passions, and pure fun to co-mingle and build out.  Whether your looking to start a new business, solve a project question, plan an event… or even develop plan to take over the world…. don’t be afraid to stitch together some little guys to form a monster bad mama-jama one!

Now if you would excuse me, I have some cheese to fill in… with idea-goodness. ~DK