Who has the most power in the upcoming election? Is it the rich (the top 1%)? Is it the white majority? Is it big corporate donors? How about the people who are responsible for redistricting and gerrymandering?
The answer is none of the above.
The group who has the most power on election day, the power to defeat any candidate, the power to elect any candidate, the power to see any ballot proposition succeed or fail is . . .
In 2014 about 36% of the voting age population actually voted. That means 64% didn’t vote at all. That’s the lowest voter turnout since 1942.
That 64%, had they shown up at the polls, could have elected any candidate they preferred. They could have elected a write-in candidate. As a group, they had more power than any other group who voted. They had more power than all of those groups put together. They simply chose not to exercise that power. So two-thirds of the eligible voters decided to let the other one-third decide for them.
They could have changed the history of this country. Instead, they stayed home.
One of the worst offenders was Tennessee, where only about 28.5% of the voters showed up to vote. In the statewide election Tennessee voters reelected incumbent senator Lamar Alexander by a landslide. He won by a landslide with just under 18% of the vote. That’s right – 18% of all eligible Tennessee voters elected Lamar Alexander to the U.S. Senate for another six year term.
In Illinois, where I grew up, Senator Richard Durbin cruised to an easy reelection with about 21.5% of the eligible voters supporting him. That’s correct – it only took about 21% of those who could actually vote to send him back to the Senate for another six years.
I have nothing against Richard Durbin or Lamar Alexander. I’m simply pointing out the our elected government is running our country with only a small percentage of voters making the decision that they should have that authority.
Here is a list of states that had voter turnout of less than 30% in 2014: Indiana, Tennessee, California, Nevada, Utah, Texas, New York, and Oklahoma. Some of these states have big populations. That’s a lot of people who didn’t vote.
Let’s take a moment to offer a modest applause to the 58% of people who actually voted in Maine in 2014. Congratulations! If there was a World Series of voting, you would have won. However, don’t let your success go to your heads. New Zealand had voter turnout in 2014 of 73%. Denmark had 80% and Belgium was able to turnout almost 90% of the people who were eligible to vote. Wow! That’s what I call democracy!
So if we want “to make our country great again” here’s something you can do on Tuesday. Vote!
Stop letting other people make decisions for you. Turn off your TV. Leave your computer at home. If you want to see this country change then do something about it. Vote!
Gregg Krech Author, Naikan: Gratitude, Grace and the Japanese Art of Self-reflection (2002)| Author, A Natural Approach to Mental Wellness (2004, 2011)| Author, A Finger Pointing to the Moon (2000)| Editor, Thirty Thousand Days: A Journal for Purposeful Living (1993-Present)| Director, ToDo Institute (Vermont) (1992-Pr......