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ANALYSIS HISTORY

Don’t Be Fooled, Voting Really Matters

(The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not reflect the views of Citizen Truth.)

With Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the United States Supreme Court being an international topic of conversation, it would be logical for most to believe Americans would agree on the importance of exercising their voting rights with mid-term elections less than a month away. Unfortunately, in some thought bubble, the importance of voting is a subject of conversation.

Voting

Image distorted to protect privacy.

The process of a functioning democratic republic depends on citizens participating in the voting process. Voter ID Legislation, The Interstate Voter Crosscheck Program, and attempts to close voting locations are direct assaults on US citizens Constitutional right to vote — the way to enact political change within a democratic system. Without participation in elections (or the threat of), US protest movements throughout history wouldn’t have been able to bring about legislative change.

The Republican Party; which has since lost its progressive roots, rose to be the second most powerful party in the US Congress in under a decade by running on an anti-slavery platform — leading to the Presidential election of Abraham Lincoln in 1860. Protests against slavery existed well before the formation of the party, yet the eventual abolition of such did not occur until concentrated voting efforts came into effect at the highest political office, and the defeat of the Confederacy; formed of states which seceded from the Union in protest, during the Civil War.

The Women’s Suffrage and Civil Rights movements both involved using the vote as aspects of their platform. Allies of the suffragists were able to pass the 19th Amendment, while John F. Kennedy ran on a staunch civil rights platform which Lyndon B. Johnson signed into law after Kennedy’s assassination. While protest and strategic political activism were important aspects of both, it would be incorrect to ignore the role of the ballot in each — the right to vote was a core principle at the center of the social movements.

“Voter turnout in the United States fluctuates in national elections. In recent elections, about 60% of the voting eligible population votes during presidential election years, and about 40% votes during midterm elections. Turnout is lower for odd year, primary and local elections,” according to FairVote, suggesting the problem is more of the lack of voting than the process being ineffective in bringing popular change.

From Pew Research, “The 55.7% VAP [Voting-Age Population] turnout in 2016 puts the U.S. behind most of its peers in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), most of whose members are highly developed, democratic states. Looking at the most recent nationwide election in each OECD nation, the U.S. placed 26th out of 32 (current VAP estimates weren’t available for three countries).”

Pew Research

via Pew Research Center

Pssst, while you're here...

Michael McDonald, Associate Professor of Political Science at the University of Florida uses Voting-Eligible Population (VEP) instead of the VAP metric. He explains the calculation, “The voting-eligible population is constructed by adjusting the voting-age population for non-citizens and ineligible felons, depending on state law. National estimates are further adjusted for overseas eligible voters…” Using McDonald’s calculations the VEP for the 2016 election cycle adjusts to 60.1% remaining far lower than most OECD nations.

The last ten VEP mid-term turnout figures provide insight into political apathy within the United States:

  • 1978 (39%)
  • 1982 (42%)
  • 1986 (38.1%)
  • 1990 (38.4%)
  • 1994 (41.1%)
  • 1998 (38.1%)
  • 2002 (39.5%)
  • 2006 (40.4%)
  • 2010 (41%)
  • 2014 (36.7%)

A 2014 study by Martin Gliens and Benjamin I. Page, published in Perspectives on Politics, “Testing Theories of American Politics: Elites, Interest Groups, and Average Citizens,” examines how the will of economic elites and organized groups represent business interests and assert their will over public opinion. They detail:

The central point that emerges from our research is that economic elites and organized groups representing business interests have substantial independent impacts on U.S. government policy, while mass-based interest groups and average citizens have little or no independent influence. Our results provide substantial support for theories of Economic-Elite Domination and for theories of Biased Pluralism, but not for theories of Majoritarian Electoral Democracy or Majoritarian Pluralism.

Voting 4

via Testing Theories of American Politics (Gilens, Page)

In recent years, activists have organized demonstrations for common sense gun reform, tuition-free public college, universal healthcare, and women’s rights — however, the current Congress has shown to have little interest in passing legislation addressing those concerns, despite each polling well among citizens. Therefore, it would seem voting for candidates supporting such policies would be the most effective way to bring about change to the political system.

 

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Walter Yeates

Walter Yeates is a journalist, novelist, and screenwriter who embedded at Standing Rock with military Veterans and First People in December 2016. He covers a range of topics at Citizen Truth and is open for tips and suggestions. Twitter: www.twitter.com/GentlemansHall or www.twitter.com/SmoothJourno Muckrack: https://muckrack.com/walteryeates

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9 Comments

  1. Jason Self October 16, 2018

    Don’t be fooled, it REALLY doesn’t.

    Reply
    1. Walter Yeates March 25, 2019

      If everyone voted, would not the will of the public truly come forward. Even if 80% of eligible voters were to take part in the process, we would see far different results and wouldn’t have the issues I cited within this piece.

  2. John Cacho October 16, 2018

    Any vote is a vote for the federal government and all affiliated criminal cartels, home and abroad. #federal #propaganda

    Reply
    1. Walter Yeates March 25, 2019

      “Any food consumed is taking food away from someone else who is hungrier than yourself.”

      My statement above is the same logic. Not voting encourages the same crimes to continue. Again, if individuals voted for those who championed policy they favored, it would be a far different country.

      Nothing here is propaganda.

  3. Salvatore Marsiano October 16, 2018

    Bullshit.

    Reply
    1. Walter Yeates March 25, 2019

      You’re logic is appreciated.

  4. archer crosley March 25, 2019

    Walter Yeates is truly the king of the Pollyannas. Corporate America owns our politicians lock, stock and barrel. The gutless cowards we elect into office take their marching orders from Corporate America. The centers of both parties have been thoroughly co-opted; they work together and rule as the Corporate party. They don’t give a rat’s behind what we think.

    Reply
    1. Walter Yeates March 25, 2019

      “Both parties are same,” is one of the laziest arguments around. The parties are similar in some areas, but are worlds a part on others. There are Social Democrats on the left who are nothing like Conservative – Liberals and Classical Liberals within the same party.

      On this website my byline is in numerous articles speaking about Justice Democrats and Our Revolution backed individuals who do not take corporate Pac money.

      This article was based on optimism, but facts.

  5. Makuye March 31, 2019

    Well, the article did at least expose the state of dementia in the USA, through the comment box.

    Vague overgeneralities, deceptive and self-deceptive rejection of the only method of creating social power for change, farcical stupidity.

    I am so far more radical than the enablers of moronic trump’s rise – the nonvoters – than can be imagined by any of you.

    Yet, still, I have voted in every election right down to school board members, since I came of legal voting age.

    the submissive surrender of the inept fool, is failing to use Every method possible to induce change, or even slow the slide to open oligarchy – admittedly never overcome in still-feudal USA and most local areas.
    there are SOME local areas, though, that are more prosocial – even to the extent of having voted city and county councils (ALL community requires oversight – psychopathy rules unless YOU prevent the psychopaths from control)

    Your answers to loss of autonomy, integrity, power to live in freedom even limited? Not voting is suicidal in cognition. Don’t hang around not voting if it’s truly slavery you desire – trump has many willing subservient slaves, even though he has been for his life a mere fraudulent manipulator, Go ahead and offer yourselves to him or some other massah, who may or may not coddle you, but will always betray and sacrifice you.

    Have no sense of personal value? There’s a huge US military composed of people EXACTLY LIKE YOU, hovering behind toy guns and uniforms, gaining their self-esteem by killing innocents on the other side of the world. You hate so much, why not join the official haters?

    Republicans have shown the they also are exactly like you, groveling and submissive toward one of the most ugly and stupid people ever to have come into the public eye, and likely to have lived at all.
    Your not voting put them and keep them able to stomp you down.

    Not voting against them, is to wallow in your own valuelessness. Just try voting ONCE.

    Reply

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