In recent years, Americans have become notorious for not voting. To make matters worse, it would seem that those who are ignorant yet certain may actually vote more often than those who are informed and racked with doubts. The result: the elected officials now in office.
Obviously this habit of not voting is not genetic; therefore it must be cultural and the question becomes "Why have Americans become conditioned into not voting?"
The factors are numerous and they conspire together to keep people apathetic, disgusted and, yes certain in their ignorance.
First the level of political discourse is unbelievably low. Since the media is now omnipresent, from radio, TV, print media and the Internet, we are blasted with more nonsense than ever. Journalism is a dying art; what we get are spinmeisters masquerading as journalists - and some not even bothering to make the effort to seem like a journalist.
Do you remember Rush Limbaugh describing the events at Abu Ghraib as just some soldiers "blowing off some steam"? Did Rush ever argue that Saddam was just "blowing off some steam"? Looking back, it could be argued that this outrage began the complete unraveling of any remaining <?xml:namespace prefix = st1 ns = "urn:schemas-microsoft-com:office:smarttags" />US moral authority in the conflict. After Abu Ghraib we could not even claim to have ended the torture of the Saddam Hussein years in Iraq. Now it is clear that torture is an integral part of the “new” Iraq and perpetuated by the previously victimized Shiites. Of all the things they chose to learn from the US…
The relative comfort that Americans live in also also contributes to political apathy. As long as one is fat and happy, one remains uninvolved. In fact, being involved is viewed as a nuisance. Many persons take the blessings of liberty for granted and are ready to give up some liberties if they’re merely told without evidence that it’s too much trouble to retain them!
Another problem has become the absolute garbage that campaigning has become. "Swift-boating" is now a part of the language. What it means is that even an American's heroism in service to their country can be trashed for base political purposes. No fact is safe from not only questioning, but complete reversal, no matter the actual evidence. Nothing means anything in politics. This only serves to destroy interest in voting except on the part of the “true believers.”
Recently more news stories have served to destroy the average citizen’s interest in politics: the new book by Bob Woodward, “State of Denial,” and the scandal involving Congressman Mark Foley.
The Woodward book claims that the Bush Administration tolerated no dissent from their dogmatic view of the world, particularly when it came to Iraq policy. The results are obvious. Yet about 40% of Americans remain in this state of denial, not to mention the Administration. To this day, the President and Vice President will not tell the general public what the Intelligence Community tells them about the future of Iraq – e.g.: that it’s deteriorating badly. Instead we hear the unjustifiably optimistic untruths – e.g.: the insurgency is in its “death throes.” At the same time, the opposition party is inexplicably cowardly in voicing its outrage. Perhaps they fear that such passion will scare off likely voters who hate bad news and the bearers of bad news.
Congressman Foley’s Internet contacts with under-age pages may have been the subject of a cover-up so that a valuable Republican Congressional seat might not be lost in this year’s elections. It certainly seems possible that power was chosen over the well being of children – does this sound familiar?
Even though we’re a country at war, the administration has made sure that only a few families understand the agony of the loss of their loved ones by limiting the losses to volunteers largely coming from families of the poor or from the families of “true believers,” and that only future generations will have to pay for the war’s costs. It all adds up to an uninvolved, uninformed, apathetic electorate.
And if there is anything that this Administration needs to have, it’s an ignorant, apathetic citizenry that is told nothing in response to asking for nothing.
Meanwhile the debt, in both financial and moral terms, mounts.
What are you doing on Election Day?