'Voter apathy' is the alibi politicians sling around to explain the stunning number of non-voters. They leave those two words hanging there letting them activate the negativity meme in the public mind. A critical analysis of the reason almost half of eligible voters don't vote is never pursued. To credibly examine voter apathy would be to indict the paralyzing systemic dysfunction of governance and our democratic process. It would call for an exploration of why many people:
- Mistrust of government in general
- Detest and don't trust politicians
- Don't believe either candidate cares about the people and our interests.
- Doesn't think their vote will count.
When a system is constructed to perpetuate itself as this one is, examining the above issues would undermine the established order. So the decayed, maladjusted status quo holds.
Pew Research reports:
"...wide income differences between voters and nonvoters. More than half (56%) of nonvoters reported annual family incomes under $30,000. Among voters, just 28% fell into this income category."
These voters, below or very near the poverty line, understand it was Bill Clinton who proudly, "ended welfare as we know it". Effectively telling poor folks they're on their own. They have no advocate in the new, neoliberal, corporate Democratic party. Since the Democrats threw the working poor overboard since Clinton's reelection, Dems have only controlled congress and the senate for 2 years, and the house for 3, They've only had the white house for 2 terms, strictly on the strength of Obama's charisma.
We're Not Equal Citizens
The Atlantic wrote about a single mother named Cassandra in 2014:
"When I ask Cassandra why she sees problems like these persisting over time, she turns immediately to politics and the democratic process. Money and social status is how you make yourself heard, she says, but people below or near the poverty line have neither. "We're not equal citizens."
Potential voters who feel the system isn't invested in them, feel that their interests are of no concern, aren't motivated to vote. Democrats are in a tug of war with Republicans for the hearts of the suburban, middle management, professional class. The petite bourgeoisie.
The lower middle class and poor are left to simply fall in line, to dispiritedly choose 'a lesser evil' while their pay and benefits shrink. They know this is a bi-partisan situation, neither Dem or GOP will advocate for their interests and benefit.
The Atlantic goes on to report:
"low-income citizens are far less likely to vote. According to the U.S. Census, 47 percent of eligible adults with family incomes of less than $20,000 a year voted in 2012 and just one in four voted in the midterm election of 2010. By contrast, those with annual earnings of $100,000 or more turned out at rates of around 80 percent and 60 percent, respectively. Similar disparities are seen in voter registration. When non-citizens and incarcerated persons are included in the count, the gap in voting and registration across income groups is wider still."
The good news is a coalition of the people has been forming. Albeit slowly, frustratingly in the face of staunch Democratic party opposition. Bernie Sanders voiced the concerns of the working poor, and lower middle class. The times have conspired to bring our issues to the forefront. Covid-19 and the concomitant unemployment and uninsured have arisen like sepsis toxic shock to the system. Looming austerity measures, which are sure to come no matter who is elected, will intensify the consolidation of a socio/economic leftist People's political coalition.
This is where I ask non-voters to participate this election cycle. Seek out the Green Party candidates. Research who The Justice Democrats endorse. Research who The Democratic Socialists of America endorse. Research who The Socialist Party of America endorses. Let us become a People powered force for Justice, social and economic. I agree voting for Republicans and Democrats are wasted votes for most of us. Let us create a whole new political reality, a political environment that highlights the archaic nature of the Dem GOP two-party duopoly.
Then after you vote, get active. Find a group that advocates for a cause that's important to you. Medicare for All, Criminal Justice/Mass Incarceration Reform, A Green New Deal/Local Environmental issues, Restoration of Social Services, Universal Basic Income, Livable Wages ($20/hr.).
Without direct activist action simply voting is meaningless.
One Love. We can win.