Dear Non-Voters, Your Country Needs You

Voting.

 

Four in 10 Americans who were eligible to vote in 2016 didn’t do so.

 

That’s some 92 million U.S. Citizens.

 

These people weren’t purged from the polls.

 

They weren’t barred from voting.

 

They just didn’t bother.

 

So, the way I see it, the responsibility for President Donald Trump rests with you.

 

The United States has a Reality TV Show clown in the oval office.

 

He is a dimwitted narcissist who panders to racists, sexists and xenophobes to stay in power.

 

He is an incurious liar who constantly trolls the media and the public.

 

He is an admirer of dictators and fascists across the globe with no qualms about enriching himself and those like him at the expense of you and me.

 

Everyday he provides aide and comfort to anti-American regimes from Moscow to Riyadh by diminishing our international stature, withdrawing us from treaties and contracts, leaking sensitive information and otherwise pursuing foreign interests over those of American citizens.

 

And that’s before we even begin to examine his colossal impact on human rights – emboldening terrorists and white supremacists while his own administration throws children in cages and forcibly separates them from their families.

 

This is on you, non-voters.

 

You did this.

 

A democratic republic is like any other machine – it only functions properly if all of its parts are working.

 

You can’t have majority rule when 40% of voters shirk their duty.

 

A study by the Pew Research Center found that not only were non-voters likely to be younger, less educated, less affluent, and nonwhite, but 55% of them were Democrats and Democratic-leaning independents.

 

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If more non-voters under the age of 30 had gotten their acts together in just a few swing states, we wouldn’t all be living through this national nightmare.

 

So if you think voting doesn’t make a difference, look around.

 

Look at your bank account for instance.

 

Wonder why your wages continue to stagnate while the rich pocket more and more of the economy?

 

Look at your neighborhood. Wonder why our schools, roads, bridges and other public services are crumbling into disrepair?

 

It’s because you didn’t vote.

 

I’m not saying everything would have been great under President Hillary Clinton. But Trump sets an awfully low bar for competency.

 

 

You think your vote doesn’t matter?

 

Republicans disagree with you.

 

They aren’t working overtime to stop people like you from voting because it makes no difference.

 

Robert Kennedy put it this way:

 

“The most significant civil rights problem is voting. Each citizen’s right to vote is fundamental to all the other rights of citizenship and the Civil Rights Act of 1957 and 1960 make it the responsibility of the Department of Justice to protect that right.”

 

Our courts have given up that responsibility.

 

Since 2013 when the Supreme Court invalidated a key part of the Voting Rights Act, millions of people have been barred from casting a ballot.

 

The federal government used to require nine states with a history of racial discrimination to obtain federal approval before making such changes. Now that they no longer need to do so, between 2014 and 2016 there’s been a 33% increase in voter purges in these states.

 

This isn’t just cleaning the polls of the names of people who’ve died. It’s actively preventing people – especially the poor and people of color – from having their voices heard.

 

In Arkansas, thousands of voters were erroneously flagged in 2016 under the guise of removing people who had been convicted of felonies. In Virginia, voters were wrongly deleted from the rolls in 2013 under the excuse of removing people who allegedly had moved.

 

And this election cycle more than one hundred thousand Georgia voters were removed because they didn’t respond to a mailer or there was a typo on their registration form.

 

To make matters worse, the purge was overseen by Secretary of State Brian Kemp, a Republican candidate for governor. Since most of the people being removed from the polls are people of color, the poor and other Democrats or leaning Democrat voters, the move makes it harder for Democrat Stacey Abrams to challenge him.

 

Kemp and his Republican buddies wouldn’t be going through all this trouble if voting made no difference.

 

“Too many people struggled, suffered, and died to make it possible for every American to exercise their right to vote,” said civil rights icon and U.S. Senator John Lewis.

 

And people have died for the opportunity that millions of people decide not to exercise.

 

People like James Chaney, Andrew Goodman and Michael Schwerner, who were murdered in 1964 while trying to register black voters in Mississippi. People like Viola Liuzzo, who was murdered a year later by the Ku Klux Klan during the Selma march for voting rights.

 

When you willingly give up an opportunity that was purchased so dear, you disrespect the memories of the dead.

 

President Franklin D. Roosevelt put it like this:

 

“Nobody will ever deprive the American people of the right to vote except themselves and the only way they could do this is by not voting.”

 

Our country is under attack. Our very freedoms are on the line.

 

Will you be a willing accomplice by standing idly by and allowing these miscreants to defecate all over the flag?

 

Or will you take a stand, do your duty and vote!?

 

 

“Bad politicians are sent to Washington by good people who don’t vote.”

-William E. Simon

 


 

Like this post? I’ve written a book, “Gadfly on the Wall: A Public School Teacher Speaks Out on Racism and Reform,” now available from Garn Press. Ten percent of the proceeds go to the Badass Teachers Association. Check it out!

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10 thoughts on “Dear Non-Voters, Your Country Needs You

  1. How about triple blame for anyone that didn’t vote in three swing states that were also targeted by Russia’s campaign to defeat HC and elect the Orange Dumbo Banana Brained Idiot..

    “Donald Trump will be president thanks to 80,000 people in three states”

    “The most important states, though, were Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Trump won those states by 0.2, 0.7 and 0.8 percentage points, respectively — and by 10,704, 46,765 and 22,177 votes. Those three wins gave him 46 electoral votes; if Clinton had done one point better in each state, she’d have won the electoral vote, too.” …

    “Trump won 18 states by fewer than 250,000 votes”

    https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/the-fix/wp/2016/12/01/donald-trump-will-be-president-thanks-to-80000-people-in-three-states/?utm_term=.9c571f77c63d

    I voted but I live in California so my vote probably didn’t make much of a difference since HC had more than 7.4 million votes to DT’s 3.9 million.

    Did you know that Trump shares the distinction of DT with the vaccine for diphtheria except he is not a vaccine. He is thriving bacterial infection?

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    • The author of this piece is a Jill Stein voter in PA who wrote an article to sway people to vote for Jill. Trump is as much his fault as a nonvoter’s. I am a DSA member and I held my nose and voted for Hillary because there were two choices to wake up to the next morning. Hillary as President or Trump. Was an easy decision and he got it just as wrong as a nonvoter.

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      • Joe, I suppose this sort of a response is inevitable. I already addressed it in detail here: https://www.google.com/amp/s/gadflyonthewallblog.com/2018/06/20/i-voted-for-jill-stein-was-i-wrong/amp/

        But since we must, here are the highlights. Jill Stein got 1% of the vote in 2016. Did that give the election to Trump? Only if you discount the dumb ass electoral college that overturns the popular vote (as it did two years ago) with regularity while both parties do nothing about it.

        In addition, that 1% includes a majority that didn’t vote for Obama and also voted for Stein in the previous election. There was no way they were going to vote for Hillary Clinton. So if you look only at new Stein voters even in swing states, they were too small to change the outcome.

        Next, there is a difference between voting for a third party and not voting at all. One group did its duty but you disagree with their choice. The other ignored it’s duty.

        Finally, look at the numbers of people involved. There were roughly 1,200,000 Stein voters nationwide in 2016. Compare that with 92 million non-voters.

        There is simply no comparison.

        The lesson we should take from this is not to crap on people who do their duty differently than you. They will always exist as long as we give people a choice. The lesson should be how terribly the DNC conducted the primary election. They could have run a candidate who could have beaten Trump and who most Dems wanted – Bernie Sanders. Instead, party insiders knew better. They forced Hillary Clinton on us just as NBC executives forced Megyn Kelly on viewers. It didn’t work in either case.

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      • I guess this argument hinges on one’s definition of the word “Duty”.

        If the “duty” is simply to vote, then you are absolutely right, third party voters did their “duty” and non-voters did not. By that argument, if the other 92 million people did their duty, you wouldn’t really care about the outcome, as long as those people voted. If 228 million people had voted in the election (instead of 136 million) and the outcome had still elected Trump, that would have been fine, as long as they had participated?

        If however the “duty” was to keep Trump out of office, then non-voters did their duty every bit as well as third party voters, and in this case, their participation in the process doesn’t really matter, negating the point of this blog post, right?

        Either way, it rings hollow for third party voters to blame non-voters for not saving them from the consequences of their decisions, no matter which third party candidate received their vote.

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      • Joe, isn’t this just an ad hominem attack? Yes, I voted third party once. Not sure how that should define me for the rest of my life. Not sure when I die a fair epitaph on my grave would be “He Voted For Jill Stein.” But whatever. I am a person who thinks for myself and comes to my own conclusions. Sometimes those conclusions will be different than yours. I make no apologies for that and you shouldn’t denigrate me for it.

        My argument is separate and apart from me and my character. It stands no matter who I voted for. I voted. That is enough.

        Finally, read the article more carefully. The Pew Research Center says that most of the 92 million nonvoters are Democrats or lean Democrat. If they all voted, chances are there would be more progressive victories.

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      • It is not ad hominem attack, as much as just an objective truth. Look, Stephen, I respect you as a leader in public education issues. You are a fierce, proud advocate for an enlightened society that approaches education as an issue of national security and pride.

        What makes me want to rip the paint off my walls is when you blame others for electing Trump, all the while complaining about the consequences. You did what you felt was right. Fine. I don’t care.

        But don’t then complain to me about Donald Trump or national politics. You, personally, did not elect Donald Trump as president. If you had voted for Hillary, and no one else acted differently, Donald Trump would still be president.

        But you didn’t vote for Hillary. You wrote articles supporting Jill Stein. And now you seem to be unhappy with the result, but not the actions you took.

        That’s now how it works.

        I don’t label you as the guy who personally caused all this, and it would never occur to me until you throw it in my face with a blog like this one.

        “Look how many people are to blame for Trump being president, but my hands are clean!”

        Not completely. They aren’t dripping in the blood of children in cages, they aren’t carrying the weight of every disgraceful action that Trump has taken. But they are not clean.

        They are no cleaner than those you blame for Trump, specifically the non-voters. If every one of those 92 million voters would have voted for Hillary, she’d be president and you’d have still have voted for Stein and felt proud of yourself, right?

        Blame the DNC, blame Hillary, blame the non-voters, blame Trump and his voters, blame the sorry state of public education for the creation of the Trump voter, blame me for pointing all this out, blame everyone. Blame, blame, blame… lots of blame, huh, but none for yourself?

        I love your education content and I remain a fan of yours personally, Stephen. You’re a great guy, but holy cow, please stop with the deflection. I did my part to prevent this world in which we find ourself. Please, please, please stop reminding me that you didn’t.

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      • Joe, I appreciate your responses. But this is a blog not a confession. I’ve written in detail about third party voters, Jill Stein and my own part in it. Nowhere do I refuse blame. I am human. I make mistakes. Yet I’m still not sure voting for Jill Stein was one of them.

        It’s too easy to blame a tiny fraction of the electorate for Trump when a huge mass of humanity is more culpable. Trump voters are more culpable. Nonvoters are more culpable. The DNC and the Clinton campaign are more culpable. Does that mean I’m blameless? No.

        The point is that there is plenty of blame to go around. And 92 million people who do nothing are worse than barely 1 million who do something but possibly not enough.

        Moreover, I don’t think you really disagree with me. Do you think non-voters should continue to shirk their duty? Do you think if more progressive voices were heard we wouldn’t have a more progressive country?

        I don’t think so. You seem to want a mea culpa. This isn’t the place for it. If that makes my argument unpalatable to you, I’m sorry. Pretend it was written by an anonymous blogger with whom you could agree.

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      • Steven, I only made one comment. It seems Dan Gerson took it over for me after that (and did a great job I would say).

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  2. I think the logical fallacy here is that all non-voters are smart people who feel disenfranchised or otherwise disengaged. I don’t believe that to be the case. Many of these people are too busy watching “Toddlers and Tiaras” and WWE to be pulled into the real world.

    I agree that its somewhere between a shame and a sham that not all eligible adults can be bothered to engaged in the machinery that runs this country, but I believe the bigger problem is that those who do vote do not fully understand their own self-interests or how the cogs of democracy turn. My problem is with the crowd who chants their hatred for Obamacare and all socialized medicine, but also who yell loudly to keep government out of their Medicare

    I would love an America where all eligible adults are actively engaged in the democratic process, but I would settle for an America where people do not continually and habitually vote against their own interests, because they fundamentally do not understand what is going on and how it affects them.

    I agree with you that, to reference the great Canadian band, “Rush”, “if you choose not to decide you still have made a choice”, but I disagree that responsibility for President Donald Trump falls solely at the feet of non-voters. 62 million Americans voted for him. 7,830,934 other Americans who voted for a third party candidate drove the getaway car. Voters…the ones who did vote could have prevented this and didn’t.

    As a nation, we actively did this to ourselves and it is quite permanent, at least within the context of our lifetimes. The problem is that regardless of the outcome of November 6th’s election, Donald Trump will be the President and his successful appointment of Justice Kavanaugh means that absolutely nothing that a Democratic majority House of Representatives or Robert Mueller could do will matter. Even if the Democrats capture the senate, and the odds of that are extremely poor, Donald Trump is the President of the United States until at least January of 2021 and very possibly January of 2025. A President who has no respect for norms and ignores the rule of law has nothing to fear from a toothless Congress and a Supreme Court firmly planted in his pocket.

    Of course Republicans are attempting to suppress the vote. Of course Republicans are trying to suppress public education. Of course Republicans seek aid from foreign powers to throw elections in their favor. It is in their interests to do so. They know they can’t win a fair fight, so they do the only thing that works for them: make the fight unfair. This isn’t a surprise, it’s their playbook and they have never made the slightest attempt to hide it.

    All that wasn’t enough to dissuade 70,815,762 Americans from either voting for him or enabling his victory.

    Elections have consequences, and the consequences you listed, such as the Georgia/Kemp disgrace or the North Dakota disenfranchisement of Native Americans, colorfully illustrate those consequences, but they should come as a surprise to exactly no one. American voters set in place a government that has no interest in serving American voters. Non-voters didn’t do that. They are one hundred percent complicit by dint of inaction and completely guilty of being exceedingly bad American citizens, but actual votes cast are responsible.

    Yes, by all means, get out and vote. If you understand the issues we face, if you understand the consequences of your vote, please, please, please, please, please go vote! If you think that Kanye West is the great orator of our time, I don’t mind if you sit this one out. You don’t understand the issues and have no interest in them. Your vote helps our democracy in exactly no way whatsoever.

    Assuming that non-voters hold the key to our salvation ignores the actions of those who do vote. Those 92 million non-voters did nothing to stop Trump and the GOP’s destruction of this nation’s promise in the name of abject greed and naked avarice, but those 70,815,762 voters who made President Trump’s victory possible don’t get let off the hook that easily. Elections have consequences.

    I strongly believe that we should vote to restore a future America for children we may not live long enough to meet. We owe them that. Electing democratic candidates will begin the process of fixing this nation for our grandchildren and their progeny who did nothing to deserve the consequences of our actions, but let’s not delude ourselves into thinking we can fix what happened on November 8, 2016 with our vote in just over two weeks. Only now are we beginning to understand the implications of that fateful day, and it won’t end on November 6, 2018. Or on November 3, 2020. All the king’s horses and all the king’s men…

    Again, elections have consequences.

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