You do have a voice

We are certainly pleased with ourselves, we the voters of the United States of America, where we turned out “in force” for last week’s midterm elections.

In force.


If by “in force” we mean more than in the midterms of four years ago, well, then one could accept that as an accurate assessment. But if by “in force” we mean in “in great numbers” or “in hordes,” as the phrase is often defined, then all we are really doing is patting ourselves on the back when we don’t deserve it.

Most numbers we’ve seen have the percentage of people who voted on Nov. 6 at around 48 percent, a number for which we should not praise ourselves but for which we should be embarrassed. Are we or are we not the world’s leading republic? Then we should act like it.

It is one thing for the occupant of the White House to embarrass the nation, but it is quite another for the voters of the nation to do the same by acting as if we don’t care, or as if we trust that 48 percent to cast ballots that will approximate our own thinking.

“I don’t know who you are, voter who lives down the street from me, but I assume you think as I do and will vote as I would.”

That’s just silly, of course, and surely no one actually thinks that way, but it would be a better train of thought than one that leads to not caring about outcomes.

But the craziness is, we do care about outcomes, even those who don’t vote. They want good government, define it as they might, but don’t take the time to at least try to ensure that their concept of “good” becomes reality. What? Somebody else will ensure it? Who?

Perhaps we should somehow enable nonvoters to give proxies to a trusted friend or neighbor.

“Here, Bill, I want you to vote for this woman for me for Congress and this man for the state House and this …”

Or perhaps we should just do what the good folks in the Australian government do: They fine people who don’t vote.

“You don’t want to vote? Fine. No, not ‘fine’ as in ‘That’s OK,’ but ‘fine’ in here’s how much you have to fork over for not voting.”

We in this great republic wouldn’t stand for that, would we, because we are rugged individuals who don’t have to do our civic duty if we don’t want to and damn all who would expect us to.

Some folks posit that more people would vote if election days were national holidays or if voting were held on Saturdays or if people could vote by mail or by using their phones and that might be true. But it might not. The truth is, some people really don’t care and, oddly, it isn’t because they don’t “care,” it’s because they don’t think they really have a voice, or a choice.

But after 2016 and the Trumpian march upon civility, how can anyone still think that? Hillary Clinton was expected to win, but the voters – the VOTERS – said, “No,” and gave the White House to the most unexpected person.

You do have a voice, and you had a voice again last week when you made many changes to your representation in New Hampshire and in many other parts of the country.

Soon comes 2020. If we are still congratulating ourselves for a 48 percent turnout after that election day, well. …