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‘Tis the Season, Fa la la la

Posted by Bob · October 11th, 2004 · 4 Comments

‘Tis the season. You know it, I know it.

I’m not talking about spending time with family, fighting for parking or even spending time fighting with family about where to park. I’m talking about voting season. But in the eternal words of Mark Morford of the SFGate.com :

Let’s be honest. Percentage-wise, few people in America really give much of a crap about what’s going on in the hallowed halls of politics and power. …The sad fact is, the United States ranks 139th out of 172 countries in voter turnout. Wave that flag proudly, baby

Source: Mark Morford, Why Don’t Americans Care?” (October 6, 2004) SFGate.com

It amazes me that world of blogs is so big and opinions vary so widely but so few people vote. It it possible to think that someone would go through the trouble of running a blog in the virtual world and not get involved in the real world? Evidently yes.

According to PBS.org (http://www.pbs.org/now/politics/votestats.html), Uzbekistan has a 86.2 % voter turn out. Here, in the land of liberty, our turn out was 54% in the 2000 election. Consider how closely the 2000 presidential election ended and what the stakes were. Consider how that election was eventually decided and all the drama of “hanging chads.” Now consider that 46% of those eligible did not participate.

How much longer can we allow such a large voice to remain silent?

OK, I’ll make this brief.

I think that voting should be required for all eligible voters. According to PBS:

Compulsory Voting: Is voting a right or a responsibility? There are democracies who swing both ways. Requiring citizens to vote is not a new idea, although it has never been put into practice in the United States. The first country to insist that its citizens vote was Belgium, introducing mandatory voting laws in 1892. It is interesting to note that Australia, a nation that is often compared in frontier spirit to the United States, has had compulsory voting since 1924.

Some nations have ceased to require that citizens vote but Argentina, Australia, Austria, Belgium, Brazil, Singapore, Switzerland, Uruguay and others have the laws on the books — and enforce them. Penalties range from fines to disfranchisement for repeat offenders.

In my opinion, one of the costs of your liberty should be your participation in our democracy.

Locally, we have many issues to address from Indian Casinos to Zoos. Most of these issue will not burn passionately in the hearts of voters, and requiring their input here might be a stretch. Will one more slot machine in California trigger the big earthquake that will send us all into the Pacific? Probably not. Will funding a Zoo make our city that much more livable, that much more inviting and welcoming to the families that live here? Yup. Should every voter legally be required to vote about this? Probably not.

But there are national and world issues that do require everyone’s voice.

It’s as plain and simple as this: someone’s son, daughter, niece, nephew is soon going to be sent to a foreign country and die there on our behalf. You could have stopped it by the simple act of voting.

Does that sound too heavy? Then try this experiment.

Look across the street from your home to your closest neighbor. Walk over there with your checkbook, your children and all your hopes and dreams. Leave them there and go home. If one out of two people vote in this country that means everyone on the “odd” side of the street gets to decide for the whole street. You crapped out here. You live on the wrong side so you don’t get any say in the deficit (it’s just your money, anyway), education (your kids will learn what we see fit to teach them) or that precious American Dream we’ve all heard about. Thanks for playing. Don’t call us; we’ll call you.

Your simple act of voting can help project a true majority opinion on so many important issues, who could possibly not be in favor of you voting? Maybe those more self-serving political types (unlike your neighbor) who rely on the fact that fooling half of the people all of the time is easier than fooling all of us 24/7.

Morford again:

Whatever it looks like, we can rest assured we’re still not out of the dark, dank woods just yet. Our national apathy is well protected, our intellectual ignorance secure and our fears well fed and carefully, perpetually reinforced by the Powers That Be and the fact that the overall 50 percent voter turnout never moves by more than a point or two, usually downward.

And the Establishment, it only smiles knowingly, and nods, and says there there now. It’ll be all right. Just go back to sleep.

So the next time you’re out there not voting, remember this: Those of us who do vote are deciding how your money gets spent . . . and how you get to live.

Categories: Social Issues


4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Carmen // Oct 11, 2004 at 4:56 pm

    How can it possibly matter whether everyone votes or not? The President is elected by the Electoral College, not individual citizens. No matter how I vote, California will go Democrat. Tell me what’s REALLY in it for me?

  • 2 Rick Horowitz // Oct 11, 2004 at 9:48 pm

    There’s nothing in it for you, Carmen.

    Please don’t vote. I prefer that you let me make your decisions for you.

    (You see, this is one of those areas where Bob and I don’t totally agree. I think there should be an IQ test before you’re allowed to vote. And you already failed.)

  • 3 Mark King // Oct 12, 2004 at 6:23 am

    I would disagree with Carmen. The people who own and control and program the electronic voting machines are most likely the ones who have already decided this election. If that somehow fails, there’s always the “Gang of Five” on the Supreme Court.

  • 4 Victor Ramayrat // Oct 12, 2004 at 11:30 am

    It is pretty obvious that there are local issues at stake during the elections. By not voting Carmen, you let the persons who vote mold your living environment.

    I think that it is wise to see the overall picture of what voting could do for the general public and as a consequence the benefits that narrows down to the individual (I am sure you have a lot of stories about individualism v collective).

    As for e-voting, Mark (and everybody) I urge you to check out Electronic Frontier Foundation if you haven’t so already. The URL to the EFF action center is here. EFF easily allows you to send an e-mail to your Senator about e-voting.

    Victor Ramayrat

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