Saturday, December 18, 2010

Voter Apathy?

In response to an attack in the T&G on Neighbor to Neighbor for supposed election fraud and Clive McFarlane's column defending them:
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In the District 4 City Council race last year Barbara Haller won a landslide victory with what I estimated was the votes of 5% of the adult population of the District - not counting undocumented residents, who would have made that percent even smaller. This is one side of what amounts to a failure of democracy.

Apathy? That's not the right word for it. I spoke with many of those non-voters, especially the "Obama voters", the ones who don't usually vote but who came out to vote for Obama in 2008. Many were angry, many were paying some attention to what is going on, and they were clear that they were choosing not to vote. Not because they didn't care because they didn't believe their vote made a difference or that anyone they elected could or would do anything for them. And they believed that anyone they elected would get sucked into the system and lose touch with them.

Not apathy. Boycott. They, and tens of millions like them across our land, boycott the elections every year. But what a useless kind of protest that is! When you boycott the elections, except in very rare circumstances, it just means you aren't counted and you can be ignored!

So what do we do about this? Part of the answer is ongoing grass-roots multi-issue organizing, like what N2N - and now some of our Ward Democratic Committees inspired by them - are doing.

Democracy means it's the people's government, of, by, for and about the people. Not possible? We in Worcester of all places should know better. It was here in Worcester that the people, acting together in an open, democratic way, took our government back from the British-appointed military governor in 1774 and started a revolution that changed the world. So how did we come to this sorry pass?

There is much to be said about this, but when the story is written about how we reclaimed our democracy and saved our country from ruin, the grass-roots organizers of N2N will be among its heroes. Thank you Clive for acknowledging them.
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