Editorial: On election day, silence is not golden

By on January 28, 2010

A recent Rasmusson poll shows that only 30 percent of Americans feel the country is on the right track.

This is not a new trend of dissatisfaction, and public satisfaction with government in general is typically low. One way to measure the public’s satisfaction with government is taking a look at what is missing—voters.

Pundits, writers and community newspaper editors can throw around any number of political polls and use the results to solidify whatever argument they happen to be making. However, those polls only measure those that actually respond and does not take into account the number that do not respond or do not answer. The same thing happens at the polls.

Voter turnout, especially in non-presidential years, is so low that measuring the results as legitimate statements of the entire populace again ignores the fact that the majority sent their statement by staying home on election day.

Unfortunately, their silence makes it impossible to accurately interpret the majority’s view of the government, politics and policy. One thing that can be taken from their silence is that they do not feel strongly enough about the process to take part in it.

Is it because they do not know enough or do not care enough; or is it because they know enough not to care?

There is no way to know for certain, and yet the fact remains that it is the decisions made on election day that translate into the actions in a village hall, in a state capital or in Washington.

Thankfully, recent trends have shown an uptick in voter turnout. Where before, growing cynicism or dissatisfaction led to greater voter apathy, hopefully now it will lead to greater interest and a desire to hold elected officials accountable.

Few can hold a straight face while making the argument that government is functioning well. Given that, we must find the candidates we believe in and that are more interested in solving problems and resolving issues than in power or their own personal gain.

Election day is less than a week away. If you haven’t yet, please begin to research the various candidates running for office. If you talk to someone who does not plan to vote, explain to them what is at stake; explain that voter apathy makes it more likely that those who run for power are able to obtain it; explain that it is not enough to simply blame those in Springfield or those in Washington or those who sit across the aisle.

All of us owe it to ourselves and each other to vote for the candidates each of us believes in; and if we are unable to find those candidates, we must run ourselves.