THIS POST HAS BEEN UPDATED TO REFLECT IMPROVED VOTING DATA 12/13/16. My point does not change. At all.
There will be endless thought pieces on the election and its consequences. I will not delve into that space, though my perspective on Brexit remains illustrative.
I am raw.
I am writing.
I am not sure where I will end. I will refrain from discussing the existential ramifications of our collective decision. My words would be self-serving, their validity inconsequential.
40% of eligible voters elected not to vote. 40%. These people made deliberate choices. Why is this so? I know some were structurally discouraged, but I’d wager the majority simply did not vote.
Some will contend it was the despicable candidates or the deplorable pitch of this particular election that kept voters home. Yet, we have a historical trend of nonvoting, even during more congenial contests. Simply put, Americans tend not to vote. How ironic. How painful.
What the ghosts of our heroes must think! It is as if our collective consciousness considers itself special, acting as if history does not apply. Perhaps this is an example of a greater human flaw: a powerlessness to elude perilous historical propagations.
Yet, we must move forward.
How do we engender an encouraging structure for voters while venerating their birthright to abstain? I am electing to expend energy in this constructive project. If 40% of eligible voters choose not to vote, can we stamp this American experiment democratic? Have we fashioned an organization that denigrates its articulated mission and vision? Has this organization’s structure ever been congruent with its expressed principles? What do we need to change? Is there a way to increase participation without being partisan?
I do not pretend to imply I have the answers. I do know this paradigm is untenable. We cannot continue functioning as a legitimately democratic republic while so many eligible voters abstain from voting. One could argue the results of the election support this: in the past five presidential cycles, our system has twice awarded the presidency to the candidate receiving fewer votes. If nothing else, I find that discouraging, and perhaps nonvoters agree. I find it equally disconcerting that we no longer trust our institutions. I am not sure I can even trust the polling suggesting the distrust.
Do we possess a government representative of its people, or a government of the few imposing itself on the many?
With so few voters voting, we might never truly know.