Wanted 120 Million Voters
Who was the big winner in this month's national elections? George W, right? After all, his autocratic, plutocratic, anti-democratic regime grabbed a 51-47 majority in the U.S. senate.
Well, that's definitely a powerhouse number, but it's not actually the real majority, nor is it the most significant statistic to come out of the election. The big number was 61. That's the percentage of American voters who chose not to vote -- about 120 million voters. Basically, this American majority declared that the whole money-soaked, issue-avoiding, corporate-driven campaign run by both Republicans and Democrats was a load of horsehockey.
Indeed, the campaigns were somewhere between dismal and disgusting. There are issues galore affecting the people -- the lack of good jobs, the corporate looting of our pensions, health care for all, energy independence, etcetera -- but these were mostly ignored.
Elections these days are not about people, but money. There's not even any real campaigning; instead of getting out with the folks in the neighborhood, in cafes, in rallies and such, the candidates do staged photo ops, pretending to be with people, but avoiding actual voter contact, except with those who can write campaign checks of $1,000 and up. Political parties, which used to work the grassroots, now are nothing more than aloof banks. They collect money and throw it at television sets. Tons of money. This year was the first billion-dollar tv campaign -- that's how much was spent on ads, the preponderance of them nasty and untruthful.
So, since the candidates didn't stand up for the people, the people mostly didn't stand up for the candidates.
There's a minefield of disaffection all across the land. When nearly two-thirds of the people feel shut out of the system, democracy itself is endangered. Yet, this same dangerous exclusion offers an enormous opportunity for a progressive political movement with the gumption and savvy to organize a democratic home for the disaffected.
"True meaning of election can't be gleaned from polls," USA Today, November 6, 2002. "Slim GOP margin reflects divided country," USA Today, November 6, 2002. Center for the Study of the American Electorate. "GOP bucks history, retains House majority", USA Today, 11/6/02.