While we may not build the sturdiest cars on earth, and our school children may not know that Krakatoa wasn't really east of Java, one thing we do well in the United States of America is ignoring elections. Our voter turnout starts at miserable and then heads downward; even the quadrennial Presidential pick, despite being coupled with the presumably-tantalizing possibility of replacing the entire House of Representatives and a third of the Senate, all in one fell swoop, can't seem to persuade much more than half of the electorate to bother with all that ballot-marking stuff.
Not that I'd favor making participation mandatory, mind you. Way too many races wind up being a choice between Tweedledum and Tweedledumber, and no one should be forced to endorse either of those clowns. Not voting is at least as valid a political statement as not buying grapes or not visiting Disney or not opening Kenneth Starr's Big Box O' Smut.
But, as always, there's a downside. Consider, if you will, that stain upon the body politic, the "advocacy group" according to its friends, the "special-interest group" according to its detractors. The Constitution, while granting no rights to groups as groups either the individual has the right, or everyone has the right, and anything in between is irrelevant permits those groups to petition the Congress for just about anything their little hearts desire, and they dearly love it when we pass up the polls in favor of whatever there is to do on a Tuesday. Our lack of enthusiasm for the tedious process of democracy actually multiplies the effect of their votes, and confers upon the groups the appearance of power, deserved or otherwise. This, of course, adds to our growing cynicism about government and how our ostensible representatives are in thrall to this group or that, so even fewer of us head out to the polls the next time, and eventually we discover that we've handed over the keys to the kingdom to an unworthy band of feebs, fools and frauds. "Eventually", by any reasonable standard, should mean "about three seconds from now."
Come November, ask yourself: "Isn't it worth it to offset one treehugger, to counteract one refried Jeezus wheezer?" Then get off your duff and go pull the lever for the Least Offensive Candidate. You'll be glad you did, and I'll be glad I don't have to do a clumsy rewrite of this same page twenty-four months from now.
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Copyright © 1998 by Charles G. Hill