Should you vote?Written by Tom Morrissey | | firstname.lastname@example.org
I walked away from our conversation, irritated and annoyed, unable to grasp the reasoning behind my coworker Jason’s apathy. I did not understand how someone could just not care. I had described several dire and apocalyptic political circumstances if he and other people were to remain apathetic, but after all my effort, Jason remained steadfast in his political abstinence. I sarcastically shot at him, “If the Republic fails, it will be your fault,” and he shrugged.
I remembered the same irritated feelings that assailed me and my wife after an earlier failed petitioning experience. The feeble reasons to avoid signing my petition included, “I just don’t get involved in politics,” to which I would mentally reply, “Politics certainly involves you whether you choose to participate or not.” Simply by existing we are political beings, and sitting out is a politically ignorant move. Or is it?
In November of 2008, according to Dr. Michael McDonald at George Mason University, only 61.5 percent of the voting age population actually cast a ballot for president. With a war waging, a sagging economy, and myriad pressing issues, 38.5 percent of the United States’ voting population did not vote. The 38.5 percent ignored the campaigns and the media, as the apathetic sidestepped the get-out-the-vote campaigns.
In the light of my conversation with Jason, the 38.5 percent who chose not to participate last November is a depressing statistic. But, is the fact that people who do not care do not vote really an issue? Is voter apathy a good thing?
In the 1796 and 1800 elections, turnout of eligible voters — white land-owning males — was dismal. The 1790s was one of the most tumultuous decades our country has ever faced, with the United States Constitution being ratified only a couple years prior to the decade. The elections were important and pivotal to the future of the young Republic, yet only 30 to 40 percent of eligible voters cast a ballot.
An awfully low turnout resulted in the election of John Adams in 1796 and 1800, a great man and president whose fingerprints were all over the successful American Experiment. Low voter turnout did not result in disastrous electoral results.
The focus should not be on the percentage of voters that turnout. In 1930 and 1932 Germany, voter turnout percentage that put Adolf Hitler’s party in power was above 80 percent. The turnout was actually higher than elections in the 1920s, as the Nazis arguably pioneered modern political campaigning. The Nazis were effective at getting out the vote and taking advantage of the 1920s failed government — the Weimar Republic.
This fall, Toledoans will head to their polling locations to vote for mayor. A few candidates have already entered the race, while others are testing the water. I implore all those who are apathetic or uninformed to stay home and not vote. Last mayoral election in 2005 less than 80,000 out of 200,000 eligible voters voted. Three-fifths of Toledo did not vote, and we ended up with a national embarrassment on the 22nd floor at One Government Center. Without an educated electorate, Toledo will not get anywhere, and jobs will continue to flee.
If one is not going to take the time to thoroughly educate himself beyond what he sees on the local news stations, he does not belong at the polling place. The number of people that shows up to vote does not matter if the majority does not understand what they are voting for.
Large electoral turnout does not guarantee wonderful electoral results — Germans are still living down the wretched legacy Hitler left. A dismal voter turnout in 1796 and 1800 America resulted in the election of a great president and Founding Father, John Adams.
I beg more people to follow my coworker’s apathetic example. If you do not care, and if you do not educate yourself, please do not vote.
Tom Morrissey is a Lucas County resident and lifelong Toledoan.