Another Fourth of July has come and gone and most of us are more aware of the fireworks displays than the anniversary of our nation’s founding. In an article in a local paper, a vote count was recorded for a recent Greenburgh school board budget.
But it might as well have been a vote in any town in the nation on almost any issue. Most votes in today’s political climate are being counted at the l0%-20% level of the eligible voting population and very little is said in assessing the reason for what appears to be an ineffectual turn out. It is hardly ineffectual. Indeed, it has exactly the opposite effect and every politician worth their salt knows it.
The lower the turnout the better chance the incumbent has. Similarly, the better chance a bad law or one that is outdated has for staying on the books. It works this way. Greenburgh (Anywhere USA) has 13,000 registered voters. A total of 1,300 actually got out to vote in this most recent election, which means that only 651 people had to pull the winning lever. The wary politician knows that at least 300 of those winning voters have been contacted by an organization (his) and they want a favor of some sort from the incumbent. Do the arithmetic. Each of those voters had only to drag one more voter to the polls to win their point. What the winning side also knows is that most of those on the other side of the argument have not organized, in fact, they usually have already given up without even going to the polling place.
Unless this nation goes to term limits in all elections, this pattern will continue. What the wary politician knows is that they can pretty much do what they wish with no criticism while the losers remain sound asleep. Here’s the point. What if the losers actually had the better man or the better idea? Democracy is not for lazy people. Someone will steal the day and eventually the system.