Post 2.13 - The Blame Game

Given the current state of our economy and that the debt ceiling debate has dominated our news for the last week, I am doing my political post a day early and leaving food for Tuesday.

But I am not actually going to talk about the "crisis". I am going to talk about how we got here.

We can blame party politics, we can blame the patterns in place for the last 30 years of US governance, we can blame the Tea Party. But the blame really rests with ourselves.

The table below compares the elections of 2008 and 2010.1

Total Number of Voters
130 million
82.5 million
22% (28.6 million)
20% (16.5 million)
44% (57.2 million)
39% (32.175 million)
34% (44.2 million)
41% (33.825 million)
Ages 18-29
18% (23.4 million)
11% (9.075 million)
Ages 65 or older
16% (20.8 million)
23% (18.975 million)
74% (96.2 million)
78% (64.35 million)
13% (16.9 million)
10% (8.25 million)
9% (11.7 million)
8% (6.6 million)

Now let's consider a few of these numbers. First, roughly 1/3 fewer people voted in the 2010 elections over 2008. That's more than 45 million people. Numbers were down across all categories, of course, but young voters and black voters reduced their numbers by more than half. Republicans did not win by a big margin in all races, nor in some key races like the Nevada senate seat held by Harry Reid -- but yet they took their win as a "mandate".


But the bottom line here is that apathy is the enemy. Apathy allows things like this "debt crisis" to happen. Apathy allows our rights to further be whittled away, corporations to be treated like people, and our tax code to remain unfair. Say what you want about the Tea Party, but they are active in the process and are making their voices heard.

During 2009 and 2010, Democrats liked to say that "elections have consequences" -- not that they leveraged their control for much more than getting health care reform passed, such as it was. But the real consequences of the election process are being felt right now. I know people in their 30s who do not vote and who never have voted, because they just don't care. And this horrifies me.

We have a conservative party continually hijacked by extremes in their party who live in their own worlds. We have a liberal party that is spineless, never getting anything done and always trying to appease the opposition. I feel like my vote has been about hoping for the best rather than being able to expect any real change or progress.

But I still vote. Federal, state, and local elections. I don't vote party line, although I am a registered Democrat. Particularly at the local level, I have more often voted Republican and supported conservative issues. But I take the time to educate myself on these issues. I take my role as a citizen seriously, because I also have a vision of the kind of country I want to live in.

But the hijacking and inaction occur by sending the wrong people to our state capitals and the federal government. How many senators, congressmen, and state representatives have served term after term after term? And how much have they done for us? The hypocrisy of this "crisis" is that the people fighting over how to fix it are the ones who caused it, and they are being pressured by inexperienced, ideologically and diplomatically limited Tea Party representatives.

So don't stay home on election day. Don't let your friends stay home. Don't let your family members stay home. Realize that by letting a small plurality speak for the majority, you are sending the country down the wrong path. Realize that by supporting candidates who are in the corporate pocket, you are voting against your own interests. And realize this is your country, and you have been given the right to have a voice in how it is governed, and it is your responsibility to make that voice heard.

1Tomasky, Michael (November 3, 2010). "Turnout: says a lot". The Guardian (London)

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