Politics

Why Don't More People Vote In The Mid-Term Elections?

| by Chrysler Summer

Here come the mid-term elections.

And likely it will come and go with voter turnout across the country being abysmally low, as usual. In a country that hardly gets fired up to vote during the "big" Presidential elections every four years, the mid-terms don’t seem to warrant much attention at all.

And that is a mistake.

Sure, electing our leader is a big thing. But so is electing the people who help him or her achieve his or her goals or stand in his or her way. It is strange to me why people don’t realize how important that point is, especially considering on many matters, Congress has more power than the President.

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Unfortunately what happens during the mid-term elections is that the people abdicate their power and give it over voluntarily to the special interest groups and the extremists, who do everything in their power to make sure their people and issues hold sway. So our country typically see-saws back and forth every couple of years. Mass turnout in a Presidential year, followed by a drop-off and hand-off to highly motivated special interests or hard-liners two years later.

But the place where disinterest in voting and politics hurts the most during mid-terms is at the local level. Just as many issues and people are on the table during mid-terms as during Presidential voting years. There’s that saying, “All politics is local,” for a reason. But people just don’t get fired up enough about getting to the polls. And yet they then have the audacity to complain about their local legislators after.

Partisans are counting on doing just enough to fire up those extremists and get them to the polls. And unfortunately in politics the best way to fire people up is through fear. That strategy has worked for years and it is why Republicans are really working that angle now. Ebola isn’t the most talked about word from GOP leaders by accident. It is a way to scare voters to the polls. I wouldn’t be surprised if the word drops off in a big way post'election. It is hard to scare people on the local level for the most part, but a national issue can be used across the board and brought into the local arena to manipulate voters.

The fear tactic, however, doesn’t do anything to fire up those who discount the scare. The fearful are the ones who move into action by the call. Fear mongering as a campaign tactic is a like a dog whistle, heard only by those it is intended for.

These mid-terms are important. The U.S. Senate is up for grabs. Immigration policy will be impacted in coming years by this Congress. Marriage equality for gays will too. Some states are debating raising minimum wage and the legalization of marijuana. These are all important issues that will be impacted by how people vote. I wish our democracy was a bit more democratic in how we go about governing ourselves. What’s the point of having rights if we don’t use them?