Sunday, August 03, 2014

Complacent Americans

Thanks to social media, I often run across things I think are interesting, some of which inspire blog posts. Like this one.

On Facebook, my friend Dawn shared a link to a post on Gawker, “House Republicans Vote Along Party Lines To Sue Obama.” She included what she said was her favourite comment on the Gawker post:
The middle class is shrinking, unemployment is stagnant, there's a massive Ebola outbreak, people are getting shot everyday to the point that we don't even get sad about it anymore, everyone's fat, public education is in the shitter, over 65,000 bridges are in desperate need of repair across the country, our infrastructure is crumbling, veterans get treated like shit, there are major wars going on in at least three different countries right now that we are involved in, and what does Congress fucking do?

They sue the president for not fully going forward with a law that they shut down the government [over] and tried ever so desperately to repeal. And yet, we continue pay these clowns on average $174,000 per year to do nothing. We need a revolution, like yesterday.
This is a common enough sentiment among thinking Americans, and all over the political spectrum, actually. It’s probably a good idea for me to point out that “revolutions” don’t have to be violent—they can more metaphorical, a dramatic shift, a total break from the way things are done.

In my comment on Dawn’s posting, I explained why that “revolution” won’t be happening:
And yet they keep re-electing the very right wing nut jobs who are responsible, and they'll re-elect them again this November. Wake me up when American voters decide to actually DO something instead of moaning on the Internet.

Don't get me wrong: That comment you quoted is dead right, and millions of Americans would agree with it. The problem is that they won't DO anything to end the insanity. And, you know, one definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over but expecting different results. Americans really are insane if they actually think that re-electing the same nut jobs who are responsible for this bovine excrement can ever change anything.

But, hey, not MY fault: I vote for Democrats! -:)
There are, of course, systemic reasons why things can’t change: Wherever they were in charge, Republicans drew districts for Congress and state legislatures to ensure the maximum number of Republicans win election, along with the tiniest number of Democrats possible. Republicans want to be unimpeded by what ordinary people want; instead, they want unrestricted power, the ability to do whatever they—and their plutocratic and oligarchic masters—want done.

So, it would take a massive voter turnout to overcome all the huge advantages Republicans have given themselves, and let’s get real: Americans just aren’t very good about voting, particularly in non-presidential elections. In fact, the average turnout for US House elections between 1960 and 1995 was 48% [Source: Chart “Turnout in national lower house elections, 1960–1995”). Angry as Americans claim to be, I just don’t believe them: They’ll do nothing.

Ultimately, the real danger in this situation is that if Americans feel that their vote won’t change anything (and there are plenty of cases they can point to for validation of that viewpoint), they won’t vote and the dysfunctional system they claim to hate will roll on. If that situation goes on long enough, it could lead to authoritarian dictatorship or to actual revolution.

Still, I could be wrong: American voters might flock to the polls in record, even unprecedented, numbers to “throw the bastards out”. They might give Democrats super-majorities in Congress so that they and President Obama can spend the next two years undoing the damage caused by Republicans over the past six years. Americans could do all that, but they won’t. They’d rather moan on the Internet than actually fix the problem.

I dare American voters to prove me wrong.


Jason Peaco said...

I don't think you're wrong. Off year election turn out is usually driven by people who are the most motivated. And that motivation lately has never been for positive reasons.

rogerogreen said...

It won't happen. They ALWAYS underestimate the value of the midterms, even when there's a significant race on the ballot, such as the US Senate or, e.g., the governor's race.