The Problem with Politics: Disillusioned, Apathetic, and Lazy Voters
Do you remember studying in school about the founding of these United States, the American Revolution, the Declaration of Independence, the Constitution, the Amendments, the three branches of government, the built-in checks and balances, and the responsibility of the American voter to stay informed and hold their politicians accountable?
(No? Try, it will come back to you.)
The sheer brilliance and bravery of the founders is humbling. They fought for freedom, they put their lives on the line, and they conceived and built one of the better forms of government around. All we have been asked to do, as citizens who inherited this amazing form of government, is to maintain it, to preserve it, to protect it.
One of the most important ways we have to maintain, preserve and protect our form of government, aside from service in the military, is to vote as well-informed citizens. It does not seem like too much to ask, but, unfortunately, too many of us do not make the effort to be active citizens, to vote, or to educate ourselves about the candidates or the issues, either because we have become disillusioned, or we are apathetic, or we are just plain lazy.
The Disillusioned Voter
The disillusioned voter is typically someone who once upon a time was engaged in politics, researching the candidates and educating themselves on the issues, however, for a variety of reasons, they have become disillusioned with the process or with the politicians they elected, and have, as a result, disengaged.
Nothing will disillusion a voter more quickly than passionately believing in a candidate, trusting that they will live up to their campaign promises and fight for the principles they espoused, only to watch in astonishment as the politician walks away from their campaign promises and turns their back on their self-proclaimed principles.
Hypocrisy in politics goes a long way in disillusioning voters. The pious, self-righteous politicians, quick to point a finger or claim the higher ground only to be brought down by some kind of scandal. The politicians who get elected supporting X, but enact laws that support Y because they sold out to the highest bidding lobbyist.
Yes, it is enough to make anyone want to give up.
The Apathetic Voter
The apathetic voter, by definition, shows no interest, enthusiasm, or concern in the political process. They were probably never interested in politics, in voting, or in anything beyond their immediate world. Their apathy comes from a sense of indifference or futility. As a result, they do not educate themselves about the issues or the candidates. They don’t see the point. Why bother?
Politicians and political parties are always trying to reach the apathetic voter with single issues or fabricated lies that appeal to the worst in us. Hyperboles and exaggerations that are meant to incite the most apathetic of voters… they are destroying the American way of life as you know it… they will take over… they will bankrupt us… they are getting a free ride… they are destroying the environment… they are taking away your rights… they, whoever they are, are always bad and we need your help to stop them.
Well, that may get votes in that one election, but when the apathetic voter realizes that the emergency was fabricated, that they were used and manipulated, they return to their apathy all the more entrenched in the belief that they were justified in being apathetic. Good luck in reaching them again! As President George W. Bush once said, “There’s an old saying in Tennessee — I know it’s in Texas, probably in Tennessee — that says, fool me once, shame on — shame on you. Fool me — you can’t get fooled again.” (You get the point.)
The Lazy Voter
The lazy voter is the worst of them all, they know better, but they are too busy to bother. Here in California, in our last election, we had a lady running for governor as a Republican, Meg Whitman. She was a smart lady, an accomplished businesswoman, and a multi-millionaire. She ran e-Bay at one time and decided that she would make a great governor, however, it came out that she had never voted before. It made you wonder what kind of a governor she would be, if she never cared enough to vote. The reason she gave was that she was too busy raising a family and building a career. Hmmm… sounds like reasons to vote.
On the opposite coast, in New York, a Democratic candidate, Caroline Kennedy, wanted to take Hillary Clinton’s seat as Senator. But she didn’t want to campaign, she didn’t want to be interviewed, and it came out that she had failed to vote in numerous elections. When she finally agreed to an interview, it became clear she was not well-versed in the issues, either. I expected something more from her, given her amazing family legacy of public service. Of her voting record she said, simply, that she was “surprised and dismayed,” but offered no explanation.
More typically, however, lazy voters are everyday people who are well-informed and educated on the issues and the candidates, they like to complain about the state of the economy or the government, but they don’t vote. They will say that they are too busy to go vote before or after work… but they often fail to register to vote… or even to fill out an absentee ballot. How busy are they that they don’t have the time to fill out an absentee ballot? It sounds less like being too busy and a whole lot more like just plain lazy.
“The vote is the most powerful instrument ever devised by man for breaking down injustice and destroying the terrible walls which imprison men because they are different from other men.”
~Lyndon B. Johnson
Get Back in the Game
The bottom-line is this, whether you are a disillusioned, apathetic, or lazy voter, the country needs you to do your civic duty and get back in the game.
Look at the state of things. Our economy is in shambles, the middle class is disappearing, the rich are getting richer, the corporations are taking over, we are in three wars, and the politicians are only getting more powerful and more corrupt. They know they can get away with whatever they want because no one is really paying attention, no one really cares, everyone is too busy to find out if they are telling the truth or doing their jobs, and we will allow them to turn us against each other so that they can get themselves re-elected by believing whatever they say.
The problem with politics is us, the American voter. We need to do a better job of keeping politicians honest and holding them accountable. We need to do a better job of educating ourselves by doing our own research on the candidates and the issues, don’t leave it to your favorite news source. They have their own agendas, biases, and corporate influences.
After you have studied the candidates and the issues, remember to vote – do it in person or do it by absentee ballot. It is not too much to ask, it is so important, and it is our duty!
Martie Hevia (c) 2011 – All Rights Reserved