Posted tagged ‘mid-terms’

Does My Vote Count?

November 5, 2018

There has been much said why voter turn out, especially in mid-term elections, is so low.  Often mentioned is the prospective voter saying, “why should I bother to vote, nothing seems to change whether I vote or not”.  Hmmm.

Depending upon where the voter lives, like a red voter in a very blue district, one can understand this surface reaction.  Another example is the voter who lives in a swing district and regardless of whether the voter votes red this year and blue the next time, and their choices win, nothing seems to change on issues important to that voter.  And not to be overlooked, of course, there is the “let the other person do it”, the lazy or not involved voter simply doesn’t want to expend the energy to register and vote.  The “free rider” simply blows off elections and makes up excuses if someone asks why no vote.

Consider also the voter who sees massive amounts of “out of State” money buying TV time just prior to each election.  “How can my candidate overcome that type of spending”, one might say.  These massive spending campaigns disclose a problem with our election laws but IMO, this spending does not cause gridlock or the perception of no Congressional action.  

Instead the real culprit contributing to “my vote doesn’t count” is the rampant lobbying which takes place each day in Congress.  Large corporations and special interest groups poor money into each elected officials office regardless of whether the office is red or blue.  Our elected officials have become so accustomed to having a rich uncle pour in thousands if not millions to both red and blue parties that principled decisions have become the casualty.  Regrettably this flood of money teaches the elected officials that change is not good.  Status quo allows too many elected officials to milk the system enhancing their own financial position.  

Too much lobbyist money ?  Seem a wild and crazy idea?  How does one explain the lack of serious gun controls, healthcare costs twice as high as the rest of the world, and the lack of serious comprehensive immigration reform when history clearly records the immigrants’ contribution over our country’s history?

So, again, why should I vote?

Voting is the only way Americans can select new and different officials.  Voting is the only way Americans can hope to change the current situation.  For example, electing women, or ethnic and racially diverse people, or someone other than a red or a blue person can not be accomplished unless people vote. 

But even more basic, voting empowers each American to justly criticize those who have been elected. Anyone can complain but without having voted, where is the justification to complain? 

In a representative democratic government, voters elect others who we entrust to make national and State choices for us.  Tomorrow is the mid-term election, so the current candidates are all we have to choose from.  Vote, earn the right to be constructively critical, and next time, if your choice does not fair well,  get involved in the primaries.

When the Music Stops

July 9, 2010

This November President Obama will get his first test in the mid term elections. Voters will almost certainly reduce the Democratic majorities in both the House and the Senate, and may even give Republicans a majority in the House. One would expect to be seeing an Obama performance record that was dismal and was  calling for “throw the bums out”. In my opinion this is not the case.

Republicans controlled the House, Senate, and White House for six years with George W Bush, and showed America what mean spirited, ignorant (of science or any facts), and intrusive government was all about. Beginning with a budget surplus, Bush engineered a doubling of the national debt in his 8 years. On top of this, Bush involved the US in two land wars, both of which he had no idea how to get out of. But Bush saved his best for last. In the second half of 2008, the housing bubble burst, the sub-prime mortgage scandal emerged, and the global financial sector (lead by US institutions) imploded.

There is no reason to think that Republicans will govern any differently today. They have opposed extending health care coverage to most Americans. They continue to not acknowledge the equality of women (opposition to Sonia Sotomayor and Elena Kegan along with women’s right to choose). They have resisted banking system reforms implying that regulations are not necessary. But none of this seems to have registered with voters.

Voters appear concerned about two issues… Jobs and disgust with their elected officials.

Congress’s approval rating hovers around 20%. Even the dog catcher scores better than that. The sluggish economy and in particular, jobs, should be expected to be a concern. For both of the issues, the real question is how do you fix them?

Kicking the incumbent out is a quick fix for voter dissatisfaction but hardly a guarantee of better governance. Until voters focus on why Congress is so ineffective, and recognize the corrupting influence special interest money is playing, there is no likelihood of improving Congressional performance by voting out the incumbent. (Term limits and severe campaign finance limitations are musts in any chance at improvement).

The economy and jobs are much more difficult issues. Simply following a recipe of stimulus is more likely to create short term, temporary employment. These jobs will disappear when government financing stops. Worse, the cost of stimulus will go directly to increase the national debt. What is needed are longer term, job creating programs. In particular, the country needs “value creating” manufacturing jobs and a path to slow, but steady economic recovery. This prescription does not taste good today but in four years will smell like a rose.

I do not expect to hear Democrats or President Obama trying to sell patience this fall. Like all politicians before, they will overstate their accomplishments and layout big promises they have little or no chance of meeting.

Voters will have a tough choice if they think it through. Unfortunately, too many voters may vote with what they wish would be true (political promises) and not what the parties have actually delivered. I wonder whether the music will stop this time?