Friday, October 31, 2008

If You Think This President is Bad, Pick a New One!

In a dirty gas station in Virginia, a checkout clerk had the TV tuned in to CNN. She told me she doesn’t usually watch it—it’s mostly for people commuting in to Washington. “I don’t like the president, and I don’t like to listen to him talk.” Sounded pretty fair, so I asked, “Did you vote for John Kerry?”

“No, I didn’t vote.”

Here’s the thing: You are entitled to your opinion. You can think the president is a blibbering idiot incapable of rational thought. If you didn’t vote, you don’t get to complain.

This is one of the single most irritating example of the complacency and ingratitude that plague American political culture. The irony of our beginnings to our present reality kills me. We fought a bloody, horrible war because we had no representation in the government, and now we don’t exercise our right to elect a representative? In 2000 voter turnout was a mere 53.7%. In 2004, it was 55.4%. Basically, only half of us bothered to leave the house and vote. Let’s break that down by statistics:

34% of the US population is classified as a minority race. The 15th amendment guarantees their right to vote. It was followed by the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which prevents states from enforcing discriminatory tactics aimed at preventing minorities’ fair opportunities to participate in the voting process.

51% of the US population is women. The 19th amendment was ratified in 1919 after years of struggle and protest.

So, if only 54.5% (avg) voted, it’s as if all the women stayed home, or not one person of minority background voted. That’s a lot of time, energy, money, blood, sweat and tears wasted. Even if you’re a white male who has, for the most part, always been able to vote in the US, consider all of our ancestors came from countries that were not known for democratic outreach.

I know it can feel as if your vote doesn’t count. There’s a lot of talk about the Electoral College, the popular vote, and voter fraud. The fact is, no matter who you are, someone, somewhere, died for your right to vote. Someone, somewhere, doesn’t have the right to vote, and would die for it. So regardless of who you vote for, VOTE! Don’t waste sacrifice. Don’t waste privilege. Don’t waste responsibility.


neva said...

Some lady in Virginia told you that she didn't like the president? Em where did you get this? You haven't had time to go visit Virginia.
You do bring up a good point though about who should get to complain, but because this is America even big idiots and those who slack to do their civic duty have the right to complain.
Usually in journalism you don't start a sentence with numbers. I like the idea of making them stand out though and if you would have had one more paragraph that started with a number, then I might have liked it better. However, I would avoid it.
I am curious if 51 percent of the populous who are women are at an age to vote.
Where are you getting your numbers? They look impressive, but even in a column you need to be siting your sources. Things like the 19th amendment being ratified is historical and doesn't need to be sited, but the statistics definitely do.
I am so excited to read more of your work. I shared your site with Tamra Kress because I was writing to her about how awesome your blogs are. So be prepared to have a fan club soon. Hahahahaha.

Angela Noelle of Striking Keys said...

I'm regularly baffled by how often folks with big political opinions sat-out during voting season. What now? Crazy logic.

I'm pretty sure I landed here via TheAwwButMum...but who can really be sure? /scratching head