Wednesday, May 20, 2015

The Dead Weight of Democracy

Lots of campaign signs at the Lower Pottsgrove Township Building
Tuesday, but not a lot of voters.
The real story from the primary election yesterday is not who won, but who elected them.

Proportionally, it was just a few lonely souls, who took it upon themselves to go out and do their duty as American citizens.

This tiny proportion of the population, which hadn't even broken the 30 votes mark by 5:30 p.m. at one Pottstown polling place, made all the decisions about who will make all the decisions.

Those who did not vote?

They are just Democracy's dead weight.

They are the ones who gripe and complain, who throw up their hands, who say everything is screwed up and money ruins the whole thing -- and by their inaction make their viewpoint a self-fulfilling prophecy.

Its not hard to get people worked up about the sacrifice our veterans made to preserve our freedoms and our rights -- this despite the fact that we mostly treat them terribly when they return from war and, in most cases, won't even bother to turn out for the parade or ceremonies planned to honor their dead next week.

But those of us who have not served, owe them more than just a debt of gratitude for preserving our rights. We owe them the minimal diligence of living up to our responsibility of being citizens.

Being informed.

And voting.

You would not believe, looking at the seven largely empty polling places I visited Tuesday that people once fought for the right to vote.

This country was founded largely by the landed gentry who didn't much care for how England's
By the time I saw Councilman Ryan Procsal 
shown here at St. John's Byzantine Catholic Church just before
6 p.m., voting totals for the two precincts were 46 and 27.
landed gentry was treating them, and so rebelled.

They feared the mob and limited voting to property owners.

Then to white males.

Then to women.

Finally, grudgingly, allowing African-Americans the franchise as well.

In each of those cases, a group of Americans fought vehemently to secure that right for future generations.

Our failure to honor that sacrifice mocks their efforts and makes us the laughing stock of the free world.

"Beacon for Democracy?"


In so many of our wars, our veterans fought and died to ensure that the right to choose our own leadership would be preserved.

I wonder if they look at voter turn-out here, and elsewhere in this country, and wonder why they even bothered.

One might think, from the money and effort spent to splash
campaign signs everywhere, that elections are a big deal around here.
If we had any self-respect, we would be ashamed.

Because voting is obviously not a right that we cherish, much less exercise.

As Phil Thees told me at the polling place at St. John's Byzantine Catholic Church, now the polling place for both voting districts in the First Ward, "a tiny minority is now making the decisions for the majority."

Maybe we need to  promote legislation limiting who can vote.

Maybe then we would begin to appreciate it as the source for all the other freedoms we profess to value so highly.

Maybe the only way to make us appreciate the value of what we have is to try to take it away.

As Joni Mitchell so perfectly phrased it, "don't it always seem to go, that you don't know what you've got till its gone?"

Here are some Tweets from my travels on Election Day.

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