Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Every vote is a little act of faith in democracy





     "What shall . . . we use . . . to fill . . . the empty . . . spaces . . . where . . . we used . . . to talk," I sang quietly to myself, lyrics from an old Pink Floyd song, early Tuesday morning as I headed to the polls to vote in a meaningless suburban election.
     If ever there was an election to miss, this was it. An uncontested village president. A lone candidate for clerk. A solitary assessor. Three library trustees vying for three slots. Of 14 races, two, count 'em, two, fielded more candidates than offices.
     Why waste the time? Why confuse my poor little dog? Her walnut brain, seeing the jacket go on, rejoiced: "A walk! A walk!" Why leave her at the front door, wilting, as I slip out the back at 6:20 a.m.? At that hour, there was no line. I was the first voter of the day, the only voter, with six election judges keeping a watchful eye as I made my satisfying fat green electronic check marks. Nobody arrived while I was there. Early voting is no doubt a factor. But still.
     Why bother?
     Because I've never missed voting in an election. Not once. My little sacrifice of time, some drops of routine life sprinkled on the altar of democracy. This act, making those marks, is what creates authority. Delegates power. Expresses the will of the people.
     The will of some people. Two-thirds of eligible voters don't bother with local elections. Even in last November's epic presidential contest between a steely longtime politician and a thin-skinned newcomer, 40 percent of registered voters didn't see anything to get them off the couch to vote.
     Were they right?

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9 comments:

  1. "The map would look like a pail of eels." Thanks for making me laugh out loud. And it could not be a better image -- the hints of sliminess and primitive fear I often feel about those who seek political office. Not to tar all of them, of course, just the ones who seem to rise to the top of that pail.

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  2. the solution to voter apathy? voter registration through instagram and early voting via snap chat. the solution to the gerrymander ? move from our overwhelmingly democrat congressional district in chicago, to a republican leaning district in the northern exurbs to sway the balance and make my vote count. there is an app, to find competitive congressional districts near me:http://www.machlis.com/elections/CongressionalDistricts/#/?address=Chicago%2C%20IL%2060612%2C%20United%20States&radius=161000 if you can't move canvas in these districts in the next election cycle . especially the congressional primaries when its not going to be nearly as dull as yesterdays election

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  3. Love the photo. Well the Founding Fathers had to appease small states too with a compromise so that they didn't feel overpowered by small states as in the House. So thus, a bicameral legislature with equal representation in the Senate as the Constitution was being written. Have to make Rhode Island happy too at the time...Remember the Virginia Plan, NJ plan, etc. When possible, early voting or vote by mail helps but many won't bother to look into that either.

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    1. meant overpowered my large states

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  4. The Constitution of the United States places two responsibilities on its citizens, voting and jury duty. For things to work as the Founding Fathers intended, first you need to educate yourself about the issues and vote accordingly. Second, listen to testimony and don't fall asleep during the trial.

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  5. Of the two elections I really cared about--the Elgin city council and the school board--I'm proud to say that six of the seven candidates I voted for won. I enjoy the thought that I had at least a tiny part in their victories.

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  6. Yes, upon reflection, I believe that voting is indeed an "act of faith in democracy." It's a religious act without a reward, the best kind I would think.

    john

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  7. The thing that fascinates me about voting is that it's the closest we come in real life to Zeno's Paradox--you know, the one about the tortoise and the sprinter that we all learn about in Philosophy 101. Except for literal ties, which almost never happen, it's true that each individual vote by itself doesn't matter, but collectively they do. That's why I roll my eyes when someone says "My vote doesn't count."

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  8. I don't know what is worse, voter apathy or the amount of non contested races. I live in Racine.(actually the village of Mount Pleasant) We are probably 5 minute walk from the dividing line. I don't know how many eligible voters there are in our district. There are are two lines. One for last names A to M and then the rest of the alphabet. I was the 284th voter. I assume they have numbers for each line. I think there were only two contested races. The rest had no opposition. I have no idea what the solution is.

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