Voting is beacon of democracy
Voter turnout for U.S. presidential elections averaged a dismal 57% from 1980-2020, while the average voter turnout for Nordic countries averaged 79%.
For the 2020 primaries it was even worse:
≤ Lowest State turnout: 2.6% – 4.9% (North Dakota, Hawaii, Wyoming, Alaska, Nevada)
≤ Highest State turnout: 41.8% – 45.7% (Washington, Oregon, New Hampshire, Colorado, Montana)
Not participating in primary and presidential elections, plus staying home during local and state off-general election cycles, we forfeit our power to hold those with their hands on the levers of power accountable.
Our constitution is an unfinished masterpiece and many paint strokes have been added over the years to shore up free and fair election shortcomings:
≤ Fourteenth Amendment: (1868) Granted citizenship to “all persons born or naturalized in the United States,” which included former slaves freed.
≤ Fifteenth Amendment: (1870) Granted African American men the right to vote, “right of citizens of the United States to vote shall not be denied or abridged by the United States or by any state on account of race, color, or previous condition of servitude.” Although it would take the Voting Rights Act of 1965 to remove many nefarious acts to suppress the right to vote.
≤ Nineteenth Amendment: (1920) American women guaranteed the right to vote.
≤ Twenty Sixth Amendment: (1971) Granted the right to vote for Americans aged 18 or older. If you were able to be drafted, you should be allowed to vote.
Per History.com, “Native Americans were only able to win the right to vote by fighting for it state by state. In fact, efforts to disenfranchise Native Americans, particularly those who lived on reservations, continued through the early 1960s.”
Yes, additional free and fair election improvements are needed, such as:
≤ Making sure restricting voting access and intimidation doesn’t return.
≤ Removal of dark money.
≤ Removal of gerrymandering.
≤ Implementing rank choice voting.
≤ Creating a National Voting Day Holiday.
≤ Autocracy: “An autocracy is a form of government in which one ruler has absolute control and decision-making power in all matters of state and over all the country’s people.” In autocratic governments, dissent is not tolerated and voting rights are systematically revoked. This can lead to a totalitarian regime, such as that of Adolf Hitler in Germany (Far-Right Extremist), Josef Stalin in the Soviet Union (far-left extremist), and others we have conflicts with today.
In 2020, U.S. was downgraded to “Flawed Democracy” status and with 11 other countries classified as “full democracy” per Pew Research Center report. In “full democracy” countries, voter turnout was 70% or above. The report consisted of, “index based ratings across 60 indicators, grouped into five categories: electoral process and pluralism, civil liberties, the functioning of government, political participation and political culture.”
Our “Flawed Democracy” status seems justifiable with 57% average voter turnout or put another way, 43% disengagement. Free and fair elections also took a hit over the past 20 years, on Sept. 11, 2001 Patriots on Flight 93 sacrificed their lives to save our Capital from terrorist, while insurrectionists attacked our capitol on Jan. 6, 2021 to stop the peaceful transfer of power.
Biggest threats to our Democracy are:
≤ Voting Indifference: Feeling my vote doesn’t really matter.
≤ Voting Complacency: False sense of U.S. Democracy invulnerability.
≤ Cynicism of government: Infection of Democracy spread through the conduit of those hording the microphone to seed distrust of government and scapegoating societal issues onto targeted groups for personal gain.
All men are created equal and all men are flawed, which means every one of us is susceptible to the addiction of hatred. Real courage is when we can passionately oppose another’s viewpoint, but still remain friends.
This is a core American trait which everyone one us must embrace, and elect leaders who live it! Good news, the majority of Americans deeply care for each other, our nation, and our brothers and sisters around the globe, we just need to be reminded from time to time.
In John 13:34, Christ said, “A new Commandment I give unto you, that ye love one another.”
We can love one another, disagree with one another, and consent to solutions which addresses differing viewpoints to meet Individual and civil society’s aspirations when we are engaged in the process and each other.
It is vital for our nation that every one of us express our voice through the bedrock tenet of democracy, our vote.
Participation in our election process provides the energy illuminating the beacon of democracy for the world to see, let’s increase our beacon’s intensity by convincing others that their vote really matters.
EDITOR’S NOTE: Ron Mattson of Marquette is an occasional correspondent to The Mining Journal.