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The Answer Is Turnout: Vote, You Jackass - William Rivers Pitt

Society & Culture  (tags: activists, americans, culture, dishonesty, education, ethics, freedoms, government, politics, rights, society, VOTE )

- 1773 days ago -
Bill Clinton, in his first inauguration speech, said, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America." One of the things that is right with America is your right to vote, and when I hear people say voting[....]


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Kit B (276)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 10:49 am
Photo Credit: Tom Arthur

My mother is an official for a town nearby, and this past week was a voting week on what are called "Warrant Articles," which is New Hampshire-ese for ballot initiatives and budget proposals. The town she works for has a small but very vocal and very active contingent of Free Staters who believe in conspiracy theories like the UN is seeking to take over the town by way of Agenda 21. They show up at every town meeting, and always always always always vote.

...and they win, more often than not, because the people with their heads screwed on right don't bother to summon the energy to raise their hand once a year. The Agenda 21 people are a small segment of the populace, but they always show up.

Bill Clinton, in his first inauguration speech, said, "There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed by what is right with America." One of the things that is right with America is your right to vote, and when I hear people say voting does not matter, does not make a difference, it makes me want to tear my teeth out.

Math: the coocoobirds who think dinosaurs don't exist because they aren't mentioned in the Bible comprise, give or take, about 12% of the voting population in America. They are a small minority within a minority party. When only 50% of the voting population shows up to vote in a presidential election year, that 12% doubles to 25%, because those 12%-ers go to the polls even if it is raining live jaguars outside...which means any right-wing candidate who says the right things about Jesus, fetuses and guns is halfway to the 50.1% needed for victory before they put their pants on come election day. To call that an enormous advantage is to devalue the definition of "enormous."

...and in midterm elections - the ones that decide the entire House and a third of the Senate - turnout tends to sit somewhere around 35%, which means that 12% dead-bang guaranteed turnout actually flexes to about 40%. Which explains the current House of Representatives pretty succinctly.

So don't don't don't don't just don't you dare tell me that voting doesn't matter. That is a heaping crock of lazy crap. In point of fact, the decline this nation has endured over the last fifty years, the empowerment of the moneyed few over the many, and the rise in power of Taliban Christianity, exactly and precisely matches the dwindling turnout numbers on election day...which, by the bye, has a direct relationship to the "lesser of two evils" candidates you holier-than-thous refuse to turn out for. If you don't like your choices, it's because you didn't make a choice in the last election, and the one before, and the one before. Nature, and politics, abhor a vacuum. If you don't like what has filled it, non-voter, find a mirror and stare into the eyes of the reason why.

If you don't vote, you are responsible for this. If you vote, you can fix this. I have a fever-dream involving 80-90% turnout across the board in two consecutive elections, midterm and then general. Such a one-two punch event would change the country overnight, and these candidates you can't stomach would scurry back to the dark corners they came from. That kind of turnout would obliterate the power of money in politics in one fell swoop.

There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be solved by what is right with America. Voting, every time, is what is right with America, is an incredibly simple solution involving minimal effort expended one Tuesday every two years, and would change everything if enough people did it.

Occam's Razor: the simplest explanation is more often than not the correct one.

What say we give it a try, yes?

By: William Rivers Pitt | Op- Ed | Buzz Feed - Truth Out |


Kit B (276)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 10:50 am

Voting is not a gift, it's a right and no one, NO ONE has the right to take it from you, unless of course you don't care. Then that right too will be lost.

Past Member (0)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 11:29 am
Feedback from the site:
Will, I'm going to say 'bravo' - with one caveat.

Voting works - if performed by an informed electorate.

Jefferson's ideal of an egalitarian society achieved through education remains a dream in a nation where the average American thinks the Ganges river is in Jamaica; the Great Lakes are on the moon, and can't find Russia on an unmarked map (although the odds do get a little better when he's asked to find Ohio.)

This is where the seventh grade math might well fail us - because over 60% of Americans, according to Pew, believe that Jesus is coming back Real Soon Now to sort us all out. That means that the 12% becomes a much larger number, based on influence. This influence-beyond-their-numbers is the Fundies and ultraRight's greatest leverage.

Arielle S (313)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 1:30 pm
Another brilliant Pitt article - I've always felt *if you don't vote, you don't have a right to complain*. And especially after seeing what women went thru to get the vote, I think it would be profane for any woman to not vote.

Mitchell D (82)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 1:37 pm
Thank you, Kit.
Well, LindaT., you have put your finger on just why the conservatives do not want to fund education, why asses. like Rand Paul, spoke about doing away with the federal Dep't of Education, why Texas has such low spot on the amount of education it funds.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 1:38 pm

Agreed Arielle. Many do not seem to realize that women fighting for the right to vote, [suffragettes] we not simply arrested, many were raped, tortured and beaten while in jail. Too many husbands turned a blind eye on what was being done.

The Night of Terror ;

The Government’s Game of Cat and Mouse: Women Suffragettes in Prison

Barbara K (61)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:06 pm
I think that the Vote is our greatest right, or freedom. It is so sad that some people cannot see the value in it and get off their duffs every couple of years to do it. If we lose the vote, we have nothing meaningful to look forward to, as everything else will be gone. Get the wrong people in there taking over everything and not doing what you want done and see how unhappy you will be and wonder why didn't you vote when you had the chances. I have voted in every election since I was old enough to vote. I wish everyone would do the same, what a great country we could build again.

Angelika R (143)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:28 pm
Linda Todd#s point is valid, unfortunately, but the more important it is to make that fever dream of 80-90% turnout come true -the ONLY way to compensate for the 12-40% there. Kit, please re-post this every 1-2 weeks until midterms! And then again!

Barbara K (61)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:39 pm
Angelika -- great idea you have there. We need to just keep pushing them. Thanks for the post, my friend.

Vallee R (280)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 3:47 pm
Kit- I vote but the voting is rigged - we need to go back to paper ballots and an independent company counting - one that isn't paid off! Though if enough people voted for Donald Duck - they might just have to do something!

Lois Jordan (63)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 4:57 pm
Noted. Of course I agree with Pitt....and have always voted and taken my kids to vote too when they came of age. But there are many problems. The number of people who vote "early" or "absent" ballots has soared....but I've read articles where it's been found that these votes were never even counted, or were "lost." This happened in my own county, and there was even a lawsuit. And, too often, the votes aren't correctly counted. Because this has happened, we had a bunch of students at the last election who were overseeing this. I think everyone should get involved with checking out how the votes are counted in your area/state; as well as what happens to "early" and "absent" votes.

Kit B (276)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 5:12 pm

I have no answers for the problems, it does seem that as our population grows, so must days for voting. Too many are prevented from voting with a Tuesday only and just one day. Most of the shenanigans we are seeing in some states have nothing at all to do with voter fraud, we all know that. I think our population of voters, scant though it may be is still too large for paper ballots or hand counting. I do believe that giving each voter a receipt for their vote a "tracking number" would help to secure that all votes are counted. This in turn could allow each person to track their vote within their precinct and see if that number was tallied.

I think every day for at least 2 weeks prior to voting the polls should be open, and it would not be a terrible idea to have a paid day off for voting. How to prove you used the day for voting? Show the receipt.

JL A (281)
Sunday March 16, 2014, 5:21 pm
I love his transformational vision.

Stephen Brian (23)
Thursday March 20, 2014, 9:06 pm
I've often found myself disagreeing with Pitt, but this time he's right on the ball. Political apathy is a blight on every comfortable democracy. Fringe elements, extremists, etc. tend to be very passionate about their politics, and they vote. Others don't, so fringe elements have disproportionate power.

There are even worse problems than the fringe elements: Right now, the most efficient campaign-strategy is not to woo undecided voters with moderate politics that appeal to reason among those not emotionally committed, but to increase turnout within one's own base with divisive extremist rhetoric that confirms the fears and delusions of those who have already decided whom to support. That undermines the mechanism by which democracy is supposed to produce good, responsible, governance.

Going on from there, I'll give you three guesses how to get special interest groups' money out of politics. Campaigns are expensive, buying air-time for ads, buying loads of information for campaign-targeting, etc. Candidates need money, and they don't get enough from individual donations. Beyond a certain point, I don't think the money really makes that much of a difference, but to get to that point, they have to make some serious promises in exchange for funding.
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