Tuesday, May 09, 2006
IS QUIET AMERICA TO BLAME?
A simple but worrysome concept has been festering away in my gray matter and to be honest, the more I think about it the more my disbelief increases. Sometimes the most complex things in life are caused by a simple and universal truth. Take the voting participation for example, and its cause/effect on our entire lives. Richard Nixon gave the term "the silent majority" gravitas in the 70's. A term to what he thought were people supporting his foreign policy action but not verbally expressing it like the media and peace movement was. This is a different silence; and while not an expert on the moribund system we call our electoral system, I've reached a few conclusions.
There are two main groups that do not vote. One, is the apathy crowd. This crowd crosses all age, race and income brackets. They basically either think that no matter what they do or vote for things will remain the same, or just have not found the proper motivation to participate in this very important civic duty. The second is the "doing ok" crowd. This crowd can include a percentage of crowd #1 but this is much larger in numbers and hence the target of every political and special interest grass roots organization in the country. These as the folks who make good money (either middle or upper middle income), have a very busy life (in whatever it is they call "busy-hood") and generally are too preocupied with the "here and now" to fully ascertain the impact they would have in the future (and past) of any issue if they were to fully engage in the voting ritual. In my humble opinion, if coupled together, this group is in large part what I call "the silent majority". The unheard-of voters. What is our voting record of participation, between 38? and 56%?.... and that is an average I think of ranges in the past 30 years which marks the hot races (1960, 2000 and 2004) versus the blow-outs (say 1980, 1984 and 1996). Can we imagine the political earthquake in this country if once, just ONCE we have say an 80% participation. That would have to include at least 20% of newly registered voters who have never voted and that unless Kreskin can prove me wrong, are the wild cards to kill all wild cards in the history of american politics. Who would they vote for? What shifts would occur?
But let me dream on for a bit. If politicians at the Local, State and Federal level knew that every 2 years 80% of the voting-age population is going to get out of the couch to stand in line and cast a ballot... do you think they would continue to treat the electorate like an unwanted stepchild?
Imagine the changes, ... real reform (for better or worse), a solution to the everlasting question of whether we are moving towards the smaller Government models of Libertarians and (some) Republicans,... or to the western European models as espoused by the various wings of the Green and Democratic Party. Even if it happened ONCE.... can you imagine? Nobody, and I mean nobody has any idea what the political makeup of this silent majority is. They, along with the registered independents,-who are the real "deciders" of every election-, could shock the world and turn the nation on a dime, one way or another.
So who do we blame for our collective apathy? our economic might? our ridiculously low four-point-something unemployment rate? our wonderful lifestyle?, our I-Pod's? our fast foods? cush living standards? our HDTV-500 channel entertainment world?....when did we lose the hunger to give a damn enough to vote?
One of freedom's most blood-soaked gifts is being left to rot in the vineyards of our landscape. In the meantime the Federal (20% of our GDP), state and local Goverment grow bigger and bigger with no stopping the hunger or the beast. What does it take to awaken a nation....?