Sitting this Election out is no way to Take a Stand

July 24th, 2016 | Posted by admin in Uncategorized

I recently had someone share with me that they had no plans to vote for either Hillary Clinton or Donald Trump in November. They were repulsed by both candidates and were considering leaving the presidential portion of the ballot blank.

Though the sentiments seemed heartfelt and sincere, they were reflective of a self-righteous arrogance that leads to an apathetic impulse that has marred American society for some time.

Ironically, not voting is still voting. It's voting for what one desires least. It is to crave for the type of Supreme Court nominees and appointees to the federal bench one wants least in order to maintain a sanctimonious stand of nonparticipation.

It's true that taken together, Clinton and Trump have the highest negative ratings at this point of any nominees in recent memory. But does one actually believe that nonparticipation will cause the major political parties to nominate someone in the future more to their particular liking?

Granted, the aforementioned example was selective apathy, but apathy nonetheless. In its many forms, apathy has been a harmful corrosive, methodically destroying our democratic values. It may very well be the greatest existential threat to our democratic republic form of government. Apathy poses a larger threat to society than terrorism, illegal immigration, or Wall Street oligarchs.

If left unchecked, sustained apathy could lead to chronically bad government, political malfeasance, the erosion of communication between government and public. We obviously are not there at this point, but for more than 50 years, voter participation has been largely on a downward trajectory.

What appeared in 2008 to be a hopeful sign that would change the direction of voter participation would be viewed later as the outlier in an undeniable trend of decline.

In what The New York Times cited as "the worst voter turnout in 72 years," the 2014-midterm elections were an opus dedicated to apathy. No state reached the 60-percent plateau in terms of voter turnout. The three largest states -- California, Texas and New York -- had voter turnouts below 33 percent.

Large swaths of the electorate have opted not to participate. Yet the anger, passion and frustration that we currently witness somehow belies that reality. With a Shay's Rebellion-like fervor, people have taken to streets in ways not seen in the 1960s. But an undeniable incongruence exists between those passions and actual participation at the ballot box.

How long before the increasing apathy will outpace Alexis de Tocqueville's definition of "American exceptionalism?" Unlike the sophomoric manner that the aforementioned term is defined in contemporary discourse, de Tocqueville's definition was at best a backhanded compliment.

According to de Tocqueville:
The position of the Americans is therefore quite exceptional, and it may be believed that no democratic people will ever be placed in a similar one. Their strictly Puritanical origin, their exclusively commercial habits, even the country they inhabit, which seems to divert their minds from the pursuit of science, literature, and the arts, the proximity of Europe, which allows them to neglect these pursuits without relapsing into barbarism, a thousand special causes, of which I have only been able to point out the most important, have singularly concurred to fix the mind of the American upon purely practical objects. His passions, his wants, his education, and everything about him seem to unite in drawing the native of the United States earthward; his religion alone bids him turn, from time to time, a transient and distracted glance to heaven."

For de Tocqueville, America's exceptionalism is achieved in spite of itself. Can we simultaneously embody de Tocqueville's definition of exceptionalism and remain apathetic while staying on the difficult path in pursuit of that "more perfect union?"

I also understand that call for increasing voter turnout, while good for the health of our democracy, does not necessarily make for good politics. The trend this century has been that higher turnout benefits Democrats while lower turnout benefits Republicans -- a fact borne out by Democrat dominance in presidential elections and Republican supremacy in the midterm elections.
Politics notwithstanding, we're a better nation when more people participate.
How long can we continue on our collective apathetic pace, equating the sound bites that meet with our suppositions as fact, while dismissing those that fail to correspond as nothing more than hyperbolic propaganda?

Maybe we could partner with the makers of Pokémon Go so that the ballot booth could be a destination that one must locate on Election Day.

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Source: Elder Care Huffington Post

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