The Sad State of American Politics

Thursday, 2003-03-27; 08:24:00

A grim fact of American politics, and what I'm going to do about it.

Want to know a really sad fact about the state of American politics? No, this is not about the current administration, nor is it about any politician currently in office. This is about the general population.

Voter turnout in the presidential election of 2000 was 51.3% of the Voting Age Population of the entire United States. In California, the stats are even worse: only 44.1% of the Voting Age Population went to the polls. That places California down at 45th place in terms of the percentage of possible voters who actually did vote.

That is pretty dismal.

This information comes directly from a government website, the Federal Election Commission. Yes, I saw the note that this may include some people who are not eligible to vote, but that number is probably statistically insignificant compared to the number of people who are eligible to vote. It's also probably compensated by the fact described in the other note: on a consistent basis, about 2% of people who actually vote fail to vote for a President.

I will say it again: that's a pretty sad fact.

But I have an idea of what to do about it.

If you're somebody that I know (friend, enemy, family, acquaintance) and you don't vote in the next election, whether it be a local, state, or federal election, you WILL get flak from me. You'll get LOADS of it. And I am not joking in any sense of the word. I will ridicule you for not voting. I will call you a hypocrite for accepting the benefits of being an American citizen while not accepting the responsibility. I will send you many e-mails a day that contain information or links to good articles about current events in politics. Every time I see you, some part of the conversation will inevitably involve politics. And you will lose a bit of my respect.

No, I'm not kidding with that last statement. If you don't vote, I WILL lose respect for you.

Why did I come to this conclusion? Pretty simple. I'm fed up with the current administration, and one day while talking about it I recall a conversation that I had with an unnamed friend, who said that he didn't vote because he didn't have an opinion on the candidates for office -- in other words: a vote out of ignorance is worse than no vote at all. That's all fine and good, but I've realized that, in my personal opinion, no vote at all is worse than a vote for a Republican candidate (of course, if I were Republican, then it'd be worse than a vote for a Democratic candidate :p ). It's a citizen's duty to vote in elections, to take a stance on issues, and to tell her/his representatives what (s)he thinks.

Taking a stance and telling your representatives what you think does not mean going to every single protest in San Francisco, or writing a letter to your representatives/senators every day (although that would be ideal). All you have to do is take 10 minutes out of your day to read a newspaper article about current events, to talk with someone about a bill that is currently in Congress, or to go online and read the opinion of a reporter from another country. Then, every 2 or so years, you have to take 30 minutes of your time to go to the polls and officially register your opinion. It doesn't take much, but it does require that you do something -- even the tiniest bit -- almost every day.

So here's a few places to start:

-- This article details how a critical piece of evidence, that the current administration is using to justify the war in Iraq, is actually fake

-- This is a letter to President Bush from Rep. Waxman, who voted for authorizing the use of force in Iraq, asking Bush to clarify why he misled representatives by using said evidence when it was known to be unreliable and later (still before the State of the Union Address) totally fake

-- This is a letter from Michael Moore, the author of the book "Stupid White Men" and the director of the movie "Bowling for Columbine" (which by the way are one awesome book and one awesome movie, ones which I highly recommend), to President Bush on the eve of war with Iraq

-- This is slightly more humorous article about the possibility of the US gov't using Bush look-alikes to pose for the real one to make sure that he doesn't go babbling on when he needs to give impromptu responses

Oh, and by the way, don't even tempt fate by remaining ignorant on politics, because I am totally and absolutely serious about the entirety of this post. If you haven't voted in the past when you were eligible (and you know who you are), you're off the hook at the moment. But if you don't vote in the future, don't say I never told you.

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