From the Left Hand Corner: If everyone voted
If everyone voted, we would have a better nation. When approximately half of our eligible voting population exercises its right to vote, even assuming straight two-party division, it means our government is determined by about one-fourth of its people.
That is sad, particularly at this time of the year when we focus our memory and appreciation toward those who served and who have given so much to protect our country and its rights of free expression.
When we have offices filled throughout our nation by people elected by half or less of our eligible voting public, we no longer have truly representative government.
It is just common sense that the more people involved in creating or selecting a product or result, the better the product or result will be. In the election process, that product or result is the officeholder or elected official. If those elected are selected by a larger number, better informed electorate, our level of government will improve accordingly.
For most of the last half century, Costa Rica has been an excellent example of the positive impact created by higher voter turnout. It is also the generating source for Kid’s Voting. It is a very small country with little in natural resource wealth, but does far better than most any free society in granting, preparing and encouraging actual voter turnout in the 90 percent range. There, the voting process is a part of everyday public education and participation. It should be so here.
When money enters the picture, as it has so overwhelmingly in America, the voting result is greatly skewed — in a negative direction. The election victory goes to those who provided the money, and in accordance with how much each provided. Power passes indirectly, not according to good ideas, principles and interests, but in recognition of dollars spent.
If we have factual balanced voter education and increased actual voter participation from all diverse walks of life and backgrounds of our society, better candidates will surface and succeed. The money role will be diluted, diminished and less effective. Targeting of selected few groupings by few people with tons of money won’t be enough to buy election results.
Year after year, we hear of voter dropoff, voter turnoff and other terms of voter apathy. Instead, voting should be a joyous celebration of both a privilege and a right that has been granted to us to exercise freely and safely as so few in the world will ever have.
While we once lamented the disproportionate power of the press (and still do) in affecting elections, the more legitimate fear and concern is the power of money in determining elections.
If so motivated, moneyed people go into a campaign year knowing they are likely able to buy an election result, so they will. If we have low voter turnout, they are more likely to do so, and their dollars are more likely to be a determinate factor.
This concern applies to both major political parties. While we Democrats lament and decry the Republican and ultra-conservative money infusion into politics, we also take and solicit from large Democrat funding sources as well.
What is unfortunate is that campaign effort moves from a legitimate attempt to inform and persuade, based upon what our party and candidates believe and offer. Instead, it has become more gamesmanship in beating the other’s side down and focusing on trigger points and messaging (more negative than positive) to grab media attention and to lure voters to that one date in November. That becomes the artificial battleground, rather than a gradual factual comparison of who is best qualified to fill important roles of public service for the next two, four or six years, as the case may be.
We have voters who only vote in presidential years. We have voters who only vote for the first few offices listed on the ballot, and ignore the many other races, many of which may have a more direct effect on them than the few they did vote for. We have “fair weather” voters, swing voters, mood voters and those who only vote when a certain candidate or issue temporarily excites them.
And then, we have those too many potential voters who don’t vote at all.
If everyone voted — and parties and candidates knew they would — then the focus would be on the needs and well-being of the masses, rather than the seeking out, focusing and stroking of the few who can be bought or temporarily won over by the repetitive wave of expensive, superficial advertising.
We can all mark our calendars and plan to vote Nov. 4. To multiply the impact of our single vote, we can then take the next step and encourage and commit everyone in our immediate family to vote Nov. 4. Prevail on a few more friends and neighbors to get them to pay attention, to really get informed on fact and comparison, and commit to vote knowledgeably on Nov. 4. Then you will really make a difference, and we will have better government from your township right up to Washington, D.C.