Blogs > Cliopatria > Dangerous Thoughts: Non-Voters' Power

Oct 16, 2004 9:57 pm

Dangerous Thoughts: Non-Voters' Power

In the spirit of asking dangerous questions, I offer a simple thought. There's a lot of talk about voter fraud and vote suppression, and you can count me among those who find the problem very troubling on any side.

But you won't find me among those who are surprised. A bit surprised, perhaps, that it still goes on so frequently, and that people still get away with it. But not terribly surprised about that, either. Political parties are partisan groups. Yes, they claim to be for 'all the people' when they're campaigning, but both parties know that there are some people who support them and other people who oppose them, and lots of people who don't care for either party terribly much; and both parties are aggressive about getting 'their' voters to the polls (figuratively: absentee ballots are increasingly important), both parties are aggressive about keeping 'the other' voters away from the polls. And both major parties are wake-up-screaming terrified at the thought of a real mobilization among the roughly half of the electorate that doesn't vote at all.

Think about it: if sixty percent of the non-voting eligible voters wrote in"Jon Stewart"... he'd be president, because that would be thirty percent of the total electorate, and neither of the other guys is going to get more than 27%. Non-voters have no track record, no allegience, no pattern; political operatives hate unpredictability.

I know that voter turnout is a tricky thing, and that non-voters are probably pretty poorly informed on issues.... so far. But, as much as I despise dirty tricks and abuse of the system, don't expect me to be surprised by what the major parties do to minor parties, to each other's base voters, etc. Rather, this is why the duopoly is so troubling: the interests of the parties are not necessarily the interests of the people.

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