Monday, November 1, 2010

Minding the gaps and pushing people to vote

Posted By on Mon, Nov 1, 2010 at 2:01 PM

If you watch cable television news or listen to talk radio, you might wonder why anyone need vote at all since the talking heads determined who will win every election across the country months ago. Personally, I find this type of sports-like political coverage extremely annoying. I think it discourages people from voting by reinforcing the idea that their one little vote just doesn't count for much. More, I think it's about ratings (i.e. advertising dollars), not what's best for our country.

So, allow me to remind you: Your vote does count, and don't let anyone convince you otherwise. Further, as a member of a representative democracy, it's your duty to vote.

This, of course, leads me to my favorite mantra of all time: Don't vote, don't bitch. I'm going one step further this election cycle, though: I'll be looking up the voting records of the very gas bags who try and trap me in political conversations. Why? Because I've found that while they love to bitch, many of them don't vote. Neither are they likely to attend public meetings, write or call their representatives or do anything else that will benefit our society in a positive or productive way.

Hear this, gas bags: If you're not willing to take 10 minutes to vote, I'm not willing to waste my time discussing politics with you. Ergo: Don't vote, don't bitch.

Interestingly enough, I'm not the first person to think of this arm-twisting get-out-the-vote method.

Further reading:

Here's a snippet, from Andrew Kaspar's "Minding the Enthusiasm Gap" article:

While there has been no shortage of media commentary and analysis focused on the enthusiasm gap, various public opinion polls leading up to the midterms have offered less clear-cut indicators of what November 2 will bring. A New York Times/CBS News poll conducted Sept. 10-14 offered a muddled picture of how the electorate is feeling. Almost 80 percent of Americans thought it was “time for new people” to represent them in Congress, but when asked how they feel about the two parties in general, 45 percent indicated a favorable opinion of the Democratic Party, compared to 34 percent favorable toward the GOP. At the same time in 1994—a midterm year marked by huge gains for the Republican Party following the first two years of President Bill Clinton’s administration—Republicans were viewed favorably by 54 percent of the electorate.

Democrats also held the edge over Republicans on how representatives in Congress are doing their job (30 percent “approve” of Democrats to just 20 percent Republican approval), which party has better ideas for solving the nation’s problems (40 percent to 33 percent) and is likely to create new jobs (44 percent to 38 percent).

But polls mean little if such sentiments don’t translate to the ballot box. That’s the gap the Democratic establishment is concerned with—and voter turnout in this year’s primaries makes its worry understandable. According to the Center for the Study of the American Electorate, Republican primary participation exceeded that of Democrats for the first time since the 1930s, and overall 4 million more Republicans weighed in on their party’s general election candidate than did Democrats.

Read the rest of the article here.

Now, everyone together: Don't vote, don't bitch. Tomorrow's the big day. Don't miss your chance. Vote.

Remember two years ago, on Election Day eve, when then candidate Obama visited UNC Charlotte's campus? I do. I was there with thousands of other people. We stood in line for hours, sometimes in the rain. We were so hopeful, so excited. What happened?

Rhiannon "Rhi" Bowman is an independent journalist who contributes snarky commentary on Creative Loafing's CLog blog four days a week in addition to writing for several other local media organizations. To learn more, click the links or follow Rhi on Twitter.

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