Apathy, Anger and the American Way

I was disappointed yesterday to read in our local paper that only 28.3% of registered voters took the time to vote in yesterday’s primary election. The article entitled “Apathy defeats anger in primary election” went on to note that only 14.82% of voters turned out for the 2008 Presidential primary election! The percentages border on embarrassing.

When these numbers are juxtaposed with the countless conversations I’ve had or overheard during the last year in which our flagging economy, our ailing health care system and our failing leadership were angrily mentioned, I cannot help but take a moment to point out the irony in these statistics. I’ve heard a number of people say “if you didn’t vote, you don’t have the right to complain.” The argument is hard to discount.

The strength of our Republic relies heavily on the active participation of its citizenry. Representatives are chosen by the people to represent the best interests of the people, but if the people whose interests are to be protected are not taking the time to consider the options or if a small, non-representative minority of the people are swinging the vote, then it is unlikely that we will have true representative leadership.

Our Republic draws on certain principles of pure democracies, however, our Founding Fathers took great pains to point out that democracy as a form of government has never and will never work. Most of the Founding Fathers were clawing their way out of the autocratic, monarchic forms of government that ruled in Europe for centuries.

Our Constitution lays out a plan for a happy medium between Democracy and Monarchy. The elected leaders are held in check by various “checks and balances” and there is always the risk that the government, out of self-interest or by default(!), will become so powerful in relation to the people that the balance is upset. Further, there is always the risk that power will become too concentrated, likewise disturbing the delicate balance.

The United States of America is at a crossroads. If the people do not step up and play a more active role I fear for our country’s longevity. As they say, “when the cat’s away, the mice will play” and ultimately, the people will pay.

To overcome apathy you need to care deeply about something. The problem with apathy is that in most cases decay is a slow-moving process that eats its prey from the inside out. When you fail to notice the need for motivation and for action, there will be a point at which it is too late.

People love to maintain a low grade murmur. If you take the time to learn about the issues, analyze the candidates’ views and records (beyond being swayed by negative campaign ads) and vote based on the facts and not on emotions, you can reduce the chances of losing your freedoms over time.

If you haven’t voted, I encourage you to get involved in the process by which our country is governed and our future is determined. Read the paper, check out the candidates for your local offices, register to vote and by all means, vote!

The principles that have made our nation a Great Nation are worthy of defense. The freedoms we enjoy must be understood and protected.

Get out and vote!

4 thoughts on “Apathy, Anger and the American Way

  1. Isabelle Kearney

    Science may have found a cure for most evils, but it has found no remedy for the worst of them all–the apathy of human beings.” – Helen Keller


  2. Colin

    You’re right that people have to care deeply about this issue to make any changes in our system of government. Hopefully it will happen before things get so out of balance that it’s too late. Thanks for encouraging people to get out there and vote!


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