Would you drive half a car, fly half a plane, drive a nail with half a hammer, or get half a flu shot? Some politician might use this photo to sell this car arguing that you only have to fill the gas tank once, the entire time you own it. Believe it or not, there are millions of voters who would believe the politician and vote for them.
In America, on average, only about half of eligible voters exercise that right. Most of those who don't vote will justify their behavior with something like: "My vote won't make a difference". Most of those who do vote, believe in the potential of their vote making a difference. It is surprising, the consequences of everyone voting, or not voting, in 2012. Let's take a look.
In the case of around 90% of eligible voters showing up to vote, several consequences would break down the system for that election.
1) One consequence would get everyone's attention. The polling stations are ill-equipped to handle that many people wanting to vote. Lines would be interminably long, frustrations and anxiety would rise, fights would break out as people's frustrations and boredom of standing for hours in line reached a breaking point. Is there any excuse at all for America's democratic system failing to at least provide for the potential of nearly every American voting?
The political parties and machines operate on the assumption that turnout will range from 20% in non-presidential elections to as much as 65% in a presidential election year. Both parties work toward the end of keeping the opposing party's voters from showing up in numerous ways.
2) A consequence specific to the 2012 election would very likely be a wholesale rout of incumbents from office in the U.S. Congress. The polls indicate that only 9 to 13% of Americans approve of the job Congress is doing. Additionally, only about 1/3 of Americans approve of the job their own representatives are doing. Obviously, there is enormous incentive by both the Democratic and Republican parties to insure that the maximum voter turnout is not the case in 2012. Their objective will be to maximize their own base's turnout while minimizing the opposing party's base turnout as well as Independents who could swing the election one way or the other.
3) Another consequence would show up huge in employer's pocketbooks. If around 90% of eligible voters voted in 2012, that day would record an enormous spike in employer's costs for doing business that day, as half or more of their work force was absent for half the day, (or more due to long voting lines) to cast their vote. It is hard to imagine why most employers would not join the Why Tuesday? crowd in calling for weekend elections in this event.
No One Votes.
Now let's consider the case where virtually no one shows up to vote in America.
The first and most obvious consequence would be the reelection of nearly every incumbent, except those cases where the challenger had more family and close friends showing to vote than the incumbent did, (possible, though not likely). As VOID has said many times since its founding, if the people don't vote, the politicians will reelect themselves.
The second consequence would be that these politicians would govern like dictators or Kings with birthright to power. With no threat of public reprisal at the polls, they would agree upon rules and laws that favored their incumbency and punished those who would challenge their authority.
The final result would be that one or the other Party would gain control of the lawmaking process long enough to pass laws and rules that virtually eliminated the other Party's power, and America would become a one party State like that of China or the Soviet Union.
The power of the vote cannot be overestimated. With the vote, Americans can potentially throw the entire personnel of elected leadership out of office and hand victorious challengers new orders on what results the public expects from them, lest they be thrown out of office, as well.
Since politicians will reelect themselves if given the opportunity, one of the primary functions of the public vote is to pose the threat of voting incumbents out of office. If politicians take seriously that public threat on Election Day, they will govern in ways that meet the approval of the majority of voters.
Since, the politicians in Congress are NOT governing in ways that meet the approval of the majority of voters, one can only conclude that these politicians do not fear the anti-incumbent potential of the voters. And there is historical evidence to support this view of our current politicians. In 2010, a near record year for the anti-incumbent movement, very nearly 3 out of 4 incumbents remained in office. Our politicians go to sleep at night comforted by the fact that regardless of how they govern, they have a 75% chance of being reelected. And if they govern to appease their reelection bank-rollers, their reelection odds go way up from there, since, with the money of their bank-rollers they can control the information the voters have access to around election time.
The system is rigged in favor of incumbents, and against the public and voters. Wall Street bank rolls the incumbents that favor Wall Street greed. And after the election, Main Street Americans foot the debt bill for all that favorable treatment for Wall Street. Wall Street, after all, has to be compensated for all those political contributions and lobbying costs to elect their protective incumbents. Wall Street doesn't work for free! Never has. Never will.
Only some vote.
When only about half of Americans vote, the majority of votes will go to the Two Parties in control. Therefore, the Two Party system is maintained, and the corruption of power by those two parties continues, without challenge or threat from Independents, third parties, or public mood or sentiment. The corruption of power in the absence of full participation public voting cannot be overestimated.
The majority of Americans in polling say they expect their representatives to strengthen this injured economy. Yet, every measure to do just that has either failed in Congress, or, sits idly on some clerk's desk gathering dust because the opposition Party won't allow it to come to the floor for a vote. The Two Parties in our government are using the government to wage political warfare with each other, and the American people are the collateral damage of that war.
Signs of our Times
Poverty in America is rising at an alarming rate, (15.1% in 2010), with an estimated 43 to 47 million Americans fallen into that category. The Middle Class that hasn't fallen into poverty, is dropping down in rungs on the Middle Class ladder. The upper 1% have seen their incomes rise hundreds of percent in the last few decades, while the middle class has seen their incomes rise about 40%. That means enormous sums of money that used to flow through our economy as consumption and production dollars, enriching nearly everyone in the consumer production cycle, are now absorbed into the financial markets as investments (increasingly overseas). In other words, this investment money is not flowing through our economy to create jobs and wealth and debt management for everyone, but, instead is being put to work by the wealthiest 1% to earn even more money in overseas economies.
We are a net import nation. This means that ever more of our consumer dollar is being sent to support job creation in other countries. Even the wealthiest who are earning more money on their already doubled, tripled, and quadrupled incomes, are, when they spend some of it, buying goods produced increasingly overseas (Rolls Royce, Bentley, Cartier, etc.).
Increasingly, as American dollars ship overseas, so too will go Americans with middle class savings for their retirement years, where their U.S. Dollar will buy the same goods and services for 60% or less of what they would have to pay in the U.S. for the same goods and services. India is already attracting US customers for medical care and treatment through a Tourist Medical Industry that provides quality surgical operations and treatments at half the cost of the American health system. Approximately 5.2 million Americans now have permanent residence overseas. Increasing, but small, numbers of these, are renouncing their U.S. citizenship every year.
Frustration with a broken political system and government is rising dramatically in all the polling data. This is giving rise to public demonstrations and protests, and increased public service costs to monitor and maintain order for these demonstrations.
States and municipalities are increasingly cutting public service expenditures to keep from bankrupting, and the losses of jobs in the areas like police, fire fighting, education, waste management, water treatment and provisioning, point directly to a future with increasingly negative outcomes for the public at large in American towns and cities, and even rural areas eventually and consumption and demand remain at or near flat.
The role of the voter.
Diminishing voting turnout is not what democratic elections should be about, especially in America: Egypt maybe; not here. A large number of States are, this year, proposing, or considering, legislation to make it harder, or impossible, for groups of Americans to vote. Some groups targeted are young college students, the elderly, the infirm, the poor and low wage workers, and millions of Americans who don't believe they can afford to take the time off from work, without negative repercussions.
Conceptually, the remedies are elementary. Politically, they are extremely difficult, unless Americans vote anti-incumbent until such conditions change.
One change needed is to move to a national Election Day holiday on a Weekend and require employers to provide a minimum half day off to all employees on Election Day, or extend the voting period out over 7 consecutive days so that everyone at work and school has the opportunity on their day off, to vote. In addition, facilitate one-time proof of eligibility registration and a nationalized registered voter database, duplicated by each State, and cross referenced with a nationalized birth and death database. These measures would virtually insure everyone the opportunity to vote, as well as secure everyone's right to vote, while ending the potential for many kinds of voter fraud.
A fundamental flaw with a Two Party system is its inevitable legislation toward the end of creating a one party system. Such a system will always work cooperatively through an agency like the Federal Elections Commission to discourage the formation and ballot access to Independent and third party candidates, not to mention minimizing their potential for fund-raising by making regulatory requirements prohibitive.
One of the primary purposes of the current political funding mechanisms is to preserve the power of the two party system while preventing the ascension of any third party or Independent movement from posing a threat to the power of the Two Party system.
There are no limits, however, on the extents to which one of the two parties, seeing its own demise in future elections, will go to protect its power in the two party system. This truism predicts that when one Party is so out of favor with the public as to risk losing its Two Party membership into the future, that party will go to the most extreme and corrupting measures to protect itself.
Some of those extents will include bringing government to a grinding halt on measures the nation needs to be addressed, with devastating consequences to the nation and people.
Another extremist measure will include leveraging the power of money in elections to offset the backlash of the public through propaganda and misinformation media campaigns. (We have already seen evidence aplenty of this taking place.)
Still another measure will be to change the laws to disadvantage the voters of the other party, or, change the rules within government to disadvantage the other Party.
Belief and Voting.
The act of voting requires that the voter believe that their time, effort, and consequences of voting will be worth it. From another vantage point, one of the objectives of a political party is to make the voters supporting the other party believe their time, effort, and consequences of voting, won't be worth it. There is general agreement that education is the most significant socio-economic predictor of voting behavior.
We have therefore, created a system in which each Party engages in misinformation campaigns to erode the other Party's voters belief that voting is worth it, and issue based Political Action Committees engage in efforts to restore in voters the belief that their vote will make a difference, if only on that one particular issue.
Central to this system is propaganda, information, and misinformation. (Is it a coincidence that America's education system is also declining?) The net result of such a system is to divide the people on so many fronts, that the two party system need not fear the voter on Election Day. The hope is that voters will be so confused as to not even bother to vote, or so torn between their choices, that they become single issue voters siding with one Party or the other.
The remedy is a consensus amongst the American people and the belief that acting on that consensus on Election Day will make a difference. That consensus now exists. Most Americans believe that our Congress is failing them. All that is left is for those Americans to register to vote, and vote anti-incumbent. If the reelection rate dropped to below 50%, both Parties would be forced to salvage their political futures by governing in a way that the majority of Americans would approve of.
Do your part.
Persuade a family member, friend, or acquaintance to vote, and to vote out incumbents and vote in challengers. It is far more important today, that our politicians get this message that the people are back in control of Election Day, than it is to choose better candidate. Any challenger will do, they will be just one of 535, and a bad one will on serve only one term.