Wednesday, June 29, 2022

Why bother voting?

     The gym at Greenbriar School is large, cool, dim, new. And nearly empty Tuesday morning, Election Day for a midterm — known for low turnout — primary, which are historically even lower. Two election judges, one a teenager too young to vote but who wants to be involved. Hope for the future.
     Of course, I’m here, at the Northbrook elementary my kids attended. I never miss an election. Demographics help explain why.
     I’m in the sweet spot of people who benefit most from our system: white, older, in the top 10% of household income, barely. I fly the flag, stand for the pledge and believe in the promise of America no matter how many times that promise is revealed as a lie.
     So why bother voting?
     That was the traditional question long before Donald Trump spent years taking a pickax to public trust in elections. Millions of Americans — a block equal in size to voters in either party — vote by not voting, a silent shrug that says, “What does it matter, Democrat or Republican?”
     Voting sure mattered in 2016, when a few swing states sent us crashing into the abyss of Trumpism triumphant. Voting also mattered in 2020, maybe. Depending on whether our brush with autocracy was thwarted or merely delayed.
     Voting matters now in Illinois, a blue island in a sea of red states. A state where women enjoy safe reproductive freedom, while Indiana and Missouri and Iowa drag them kicking and screaming back to the dark ages.
     As important as the 2020 presidential election was, only 66.9% of those eligible cast ballots. With a plague raging and a sociopath in the White House, a third of America yawned, shrugged and couldn’t be bothered.

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  1. "Some have valid reasons. They are busy with demanding jobs and families, or located in areas where polling places have been cut back. They have to drive miles, wait hours."

    No they don't have valid reasons!
    I voted by mail, it took a few minutes to fill out the application & then drop it in the collection box.
    Then the ballot came in the mail & I did that in a few minutes & then dropped it in the collection box for the Post Office to deliver to the Board of Elections.
    Postage paid both times!
    What we have have lazy & stupid people, who don't understand that when they don't vote, they let insane & dangerous would be dictator scum like T**** win!

    1. That strikes me as harsh, C.S. It seems to me that if all the lazy and stupid people took the trouble to vote, Trump would have won more decisively in 2016, and again in 2020. Life is hard for many, and the direct role they play in the madness of our country isn't always apparent. You don't have time for everything. Exercise is important, but with my mother in the hospital for the past ... month, plus, I don't work out as much because of the two-hour block of time it takes to visit her. That doesn't make me stupid, or ignorant of the value of health. Sometimes something has to give, and I imagine voting is fairly low hanging fruit. Railing against others is easy and, it seems to me, off brand for you.

    2. "Trump would have won more decisively"

      It would be interesting to get a brief glimpse of an alternate reality in which *everybody* voted. Though your speculation may well be correct, NS, it's hard to know for sure. One thing that's clear, though, is that one party tries to get as many people to vote as possible, while the other attempts to limit the number however they can.

      We voted by mail, as well. While I've been quite impressed with how efficient and easy they've made the process, I do wonder about the economics. It must cost a fortune, what with the extra paperwork, postage, etc.

      The problem for us was that, voting in advance, it wasn't as easy to find recommendations with regard to judges, and such, as when both papers would print their big pages of endorsements on the Sunday and Tuesday of election week. We were able to find stuff online, but I lament the fact that your fine associates at the S-T didn't offer their endorsements the way they used to...

    3. Thank you. Besides being unduly harsh, Clark St.’s comment is predicated upon the common fallacy that anyone who either a) does not vote, or b) votes for a third party candidate, would have been destined to otherwise vote for the candidate that the complainer would have preferred. Like the way that millions of people continue to claim that Ralph Nader “cost” the 2000 election for Al Gore, despite the myriad ways that this claim has been debunked over the last twenty years (twelve times as many registered Democrats in Florida casting their votes for Bush as did for Nader being just one tiny example).

  2. I still vote only because the alternative is a form of surrender.
    Even before Trump was elected, serious flaws in our system were exposed. The GOP refusal to allow Obama to nominate a SC justice is just one.
    The Trump regime exposed the truth in information crisis. Most people decide who to vote for by watching TV ads and following websites that support their biases.
    Ideally we’d like every eligible voter to cast their ballot but what information is in in their heads when they do?

    1. If I were King, the simple reform I would institute would be to disallow television and radio campaign ads. In addition to how they cast so much more heat than light, they're an egregious example of how the political process is skewed by money. (Sure, I suppose it would be unconstitutional, but when the Supreme Court can overturn 50 years of "settled law" at the whims of a beer-loving frat boy and a certified Handmaiden, who cares about that?!)

  3. My mother-in-law, who died at 89 in 2004, was actively involved in local politics in her younger and healthier days. She was a Democratic precinct captain in suburban Cleveland (Parma, OH) for many years. As a result, my wife was actively campaigning by the age of thirteen (for JFK).

    She sees to it that we vote in EVERY election, even the ones that appear to be meaningless and inconsequential. They aren't. All elections have consequences. Example: The last seven years of hell we have lived through.

    When certain people ask: "Why bother voting?" or maintain that all politicians are corrupt and crooked and easily bought and paid-for, I reply with what my mother-in-law always said: "If you don't vote, you forfeit your right to bitch." That usually shuts most of them up.

  4. For my wife and I voting was a pleasant experienced. Uncrowded site not too far from home. Professional and friendly officials. Easy to fall into the misconception that it might not be so for everybody.


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