All the protests on social media, the on-line petitions and marching in the streets don’t mean a thing. All the Twitter memes, wall murals, statue removals, and messages painted on streets don’t mean a thing.
If you don’t vote.
Marches won’t do it. Social media rants don’t count. The only way to change unpopular governments and their policies is to vote. Nothing will change if you don’t vote.
Yet in the U.S., barely half of the voting age population actually votes in presidential elections. The numbers are even worse for mid-term Congressional elections and downright dismal for state and local elections.
Tennessee ranks 49th out of 50 states for voter turnout and was the 37th state to create an on-line voter registration system. The state is currently dragging its bureaucratic feet on expanding voting by mail despite a federal court order and a pandemic endangering the health of the voters.
With pathetically low numbers like these, the U.S. ranks near the bottom for voter turnout among democratic countries. But a democracy is only as strong as its free and fair elections; which won’t happen if people don’t vote. When voters don’t vote, democracy dies.
When most voters don’t vote, it is easy for small groups of fanatically committed people to take over a country. Fanatical groups always have a message that sounds reasonable, like law and order, national security, limiting immigration or some other seemingly innocuous message. But fanatically committed political groups are always anti-democratic.
Once they have control of the presidential and legislative levers of government, they systemically undermine all democratic institutions that might limit their power. The first to go are inspector general offices which investigate wrong-doing by government officials. Next to go is a free press. After that judicial independence is wiped out. Without a free press and an independent judiciary, any citizen (i.e., voter) can be imprisoned any time on bogus charges. Being an alleged national security threat is a favorite.
By the time the voters wake up to the situation, every election is a sham and votes truly don’t count. Democracy exists only as a façade.
What does a sham democracy look like? It looks like Thailand, Poland, Hungary, Russia, Turkey, and most of the countries created from former Yugoslavia. If the U.S. wants to continue being a democracy, people need to step up to the ballot box and vote.
Because…all the marches, memes, on-line protests, pulling down statues and painting the street don’t mean a thing…..if you don’t vote.
About Norma Shirk
My company, Corporate Compliance Risk Advisor, helps employers (with up to 50 employees) to create human resources policies and employee benefit programs that are appropriate to the employer’s size and budget. The goal is to help small companies grow by creating the necessary back office administrative structure while avoiding the dead weight of a bureaucracy. To read my musings on the wacky world of human resources, see the HR Compliance Jungle (www.hrcompliancejungle.com) which alternates on Wednesday mornings with my history blog, History By Norma, (available at http://www.normashirk.com). To read my musings on a variety of topics, see my posts on Her Savvy (www.hersavvy.com).
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