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Stop Blaming Millennials for Not Voting. Blame America’s Screwed-up System—and Fix It!

I strongly suspect that it never occurred to the Founders, despite Washington’s caveat about parties, that a future Republic, if it existed at all, could become so corrupt as to have factions (parties) seeking actively to deny the vote to other factions.

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Not voting is in no way equivalent to inaction or ignorance.
By voting for the duopoly all you do is make yourself complicit, and as such you have no right to complain.

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First they have to vote in order to gain the power to change the system. You know, the horse before the cart.

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On Tuesday, I will walk down to the elementary school that has to either relocate its kids to the local community center or have the day off so we can vote. The fact that we are no longer having to drive from our farm to the polling site in our horse and buggy on a day not otherwise dedicated to worship or the farmer’s market is not as big a problem for me now that I’m retired. Like Yunzer, my ballot will be an easy one since my candidates are incumbents who should easily win their races. But like Roger H I would prefer to be voting for candidates who openly disavow money in politics, plan to work to make that happen, and announce they will lead the way by no longer accepting dark money or funding from big business and special interests. Candidates who fervently want to go further than The Affordable Care Act and support Medicare for all. Public servants who don’t rail against a clearly courrupted Supreme Court process then turn around and rubber stamp equally unsuitable candidates for federal courts. Who are not joined at the hip with the military industrial complex (and I’m a veteran).

Roger summed it up perfectly: “Give the electorate candidates who aren’t beholden to corporations and concentrated capital; who are willing to reflect the values that I think most people actually have, and who have the integrity and spine to stand up for them unflinchingly, and I suspect many more people will pay attention, vote and otherwise engage.”

My state, home of the very first colony, our first President, and the author of the Declaration of Independence, doesn’t even allow the initiative and referendum process. As a fairly recent transplant, I’ve learned more about our nation’s real history and our forefathers’ intent than I learned in more than sixty years of history study.

I’ll spend the last days I have working to give all those pretty words they wrote real meaning.

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WOW! School is indoctrination----people need to learn the meaning of INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM-and the responsibilities of INDIVIDUAL FREEDOM—and the importance of understanding the COMMONS-----be “owners” or stewards—not slaves. Students in 11th or 12th grade should be required to do a outside class project orienting them to the workings of government.

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Not true. Laws have been changing, and when a felon is out of the system they can reregister to vote. Good question whether they want to…

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It did occur to the Founders. Which is why they created a form of government with separation of powers between the executive, two houses of the legislative and the judiciary.

A part substantially taken for granted at the time, but which needs shoring up is the role of the states separate from and somewhat independent from the national government, as described in the 9th and 10th Amendments.

Also, the Founders never envisioned that the Executive, with its regulatory agencies and regulation writing power, would ever get as large as it has.

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A few random comments.

I have an aunt, 90 years old and her mental condition probably precludes “being of right mind” able to make out a will anymore. If she can’t make out a will, and definitely can’t drive a car anymore, is she fit enough in mind to cast a ballot? Or would a ballot in her name really reflect some ‘helper’s’ choices? Is that much different than all the ballots cast in Chicago by dead people?

There are districts, often quite blue districts, where the candidates run unopposed, or with only trivial opposition from minor party candidates. If you are a big fan, or relative, or ward-heeler of the candidate you go to the poll and pull the lever for the one candidate. If you are dissatisfied with how things are going in your district, what is your choice? Maybe you buy a drink to drown your unhappiness.
– Here jungle primary states are a little better. In California you have a real contest, U.S. Senate, between leftist Dianne Feinstein, and further leftist Kevin de Leon. Many Republicans (what few are left in CA) lament their lack of choice. They might skip the vote (won’t be missed, eh?) and go buy a drink to drown their unhappiness.

Despite the claims made in the article, there are documented instances of fraudulent votes being cast. Is it enough to tip the outcome? In situations where a certain number of votes will be fraudulent, how big does a margin of victory have to be to be sure that it was decided by fraudulent voting?

In the Third World, where elections are more often rigged and stolen, it is a common tactic to boycott the voting, and loudly protest the election as stolen.

OK, Mr. Bunch, I hear you, especially the fact that democrats don’t make a big enough noise and fuss about Americans being denied their right to vote and democrats often using wimpy and inept rhetoric and campagn strategies. I don’t know exactly why this is, and you are right. We democrats really do need to improve what we say and to improve our plans for fixing our government. We really need wealthy progressives to buy Clear Channel and get the progressive Democratic message out on the radio. We need a truth telling democratic progressive version of Limbaugh to educate and inspire the public every day and to counteract right wing media lies. I’d do it for free if I could get the air time. Limbaugh gets paid $400 million a year! However, no one is perfect, and we democrats are just fallible human beings trying to do the best we can. At least most democrats tell the truth and are mostly right on most of the issues that are facing our country, even if we don’t always get our words right all the time. I vote for democrats because they are right on the issues and they don’t lie, commit slander, or cheat to win elections like the republicans do.

However, it’s hard to promise to fix something that a candidate may not be able to fix or have any control over, as state governors and state legislatures have most, if not all control over voting laws and voting rights in their states, so if we are a candidate for federal House or Senate there isn’t much of anything that we actually CAN do about it, and bringing up problems that we can do little to nothing about doesn’t help us or anyone else. Congressional candidates could talk about republicans’ refusal to spend any federal money to protect and safeguard our elections from foreign interference, but even if democrats could gain control of both the House AND the Senate, which would require a miracle from God, it would still be impossible to get any democratic bill passed until Trump is removed and replaced with a democrat, as Trump will just veto any democratic bill out of hand, regardless of its content, and we cannot ever hope to override his veto, as republicans all want to suppress voters and they all want to allow Russians to interfere in our elections on their behalf and so they will never vote with us to safeguard our elections, and because republicans have childishly refused to cooperate and vote along with democrats for almost any bill as a block, and have been insisting on having everything their way or the highway for decades. And we can never hope to have a democrat only 2/3 majority to override Trump until many more American voters wake up and vote many more democrats into office! It’s like a Catch 22! We could bring up how traitorous to our democracy this is, but we can’t fix it. I truly wish that many more Americans actually understood this, and how our democracy really works, or doesn’t work, for that matter!

This issue does concern all state governors and all members of state legislatures though, but unless democratic governors have the benefit of corresponding democratically controlled state legislatures, they cannot even promise to fix voting rights, but only to work hard to try to fix voting rights.

So the big picture is that unless underdog democrats also ever get the corresponding supporting democratic majority legislatures in unified democratic controlled governments they will lack the power to ever fix these problems and republicans control 32 of 50 state governorships right now and many state legislatures are also controlled by republicans due to gerrymandering and every other kind of voter suppression tactic known to man. Because the Republican Party members now vote as one block and block everything and anything that any democrat ever tries to do to almost a man, it makes it even harder. We democrats are in the position that we must get enough votes to overcome Republican gerrymandering and massive Republican voter suppression just to get elected in sufficient numbers to be able to put an end to gerrymandering and massive voter suppression, and unless enough people come out and vote for us we don’t have even a prayer in heaven or hell of fixing this problem! So we need their votes first, not after we have fixed this, which is why focusing on health care and other issues is easier to explain and to stand up for, as we can promise to vote for health care and to vote to protect Social Security and Medicare and Medicaid. I suppose we can promise to do all we can to fix voter suppression and gerrymandering which of course we will, but it might not be doable and then it will look like we couldn’t keep our campagn promise. And, with a far right Supreme Court and federal bench it will get even harder for voters and democrats over time which is why these Republican thugs must be stopped ASAP and why it is a terrible shame that democrats may not get to control the Senate in a majority so we can block more far right judges like Kavanaugh. If democrats do not take the majority in the Senate, and this will take an act of God to happen, then MCConnell and Trump can and will ram as many far right judges as possible down all of our throats for two more years and there is nothing we democrats can ever do to stop them. I wish that more democratic Senate candidates talked more about this! More far right judges will just allow even more gerrymandering and voter suppression and here we go around the mulberry bush again!

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Yes, and this MUST be fixed and there needs to be severe penalties for rigging elections, gerrymandering, or voter suppression as well! No one should be denied citizenship for not voting, a small fine would be enough.

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Yes, good ideas, you are right!

But can you tell me how not voting or participating in government willl accomplish any of the things that you suggest? I suggest we try to reform the Democratic Party and make it work for all of us, the exact same way that the Republican Party was destroyed and made to work massively against us, by primarying out and replacing bad democrats and working to change bad leadership and other things. If we all just allow republicans to take over every time, things will only get much worse even more quickly. Democrats are at least twice as good as any republican. We need more time to fix things and republicans are headed off a cliff right now! Are you all so desirous of suicide and death and destruction that you won’t even try to resist this? I will keep fighting as best I can even if I lose, it will always be better than just doing nothing!

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For years on this rag I have been screaming about education and oh how I was put down. Why do you think “they” starve school budgets? They do not teach to learn or to think. Now days they teach to take tests. There is no Social Studies, Civics classes, English Only, no government studies…no wonder people are so, and I want to say stupid but my betters say I must say…ill-informed. However, with out a liberal education…you are just plain stupid. It is written in stone that “if you think education is expensive, then try ignorance.”

Just yesterday I spoke to a millennial at a Petco store and I asked him if he was going to vote. I did not ask him How he was going to vote. I asked him if he was voting. And he said he hadn’t thought about it and he was too busy. I almost passed out. I said have you heard about the synagogue? He said yes with a bank stare and said nothing. Yes, I understand the protocol is to never discuss politics while working…well that shit has to stop. I told this young kid that he just broke my heart.

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Wrong. First they have to revolt in order to gain control of the system, only then can their votes actually matter.

I couldn’t wait to vote- my late grandmothers couldn’t vote for a good part of their lives just because they were women! Don’t these spoiled brats realize that people fought and some died for all of our right to vote?

Hey how about this one? The day of 911 we actually saw a young person say " Why should I care - this doesn’t affect me!" Yes- it does- the country was attacked! I took civics in HS way back in the sixties and we even had some in another class of English - some of these kids know how to use a computor but they are “depressed” because they are entitled. Being too busy to vote- and you’re a kid- while there are people in the military and first responders who put their lives on the line all the time- man this society is in deep trouble. Only thing these kids care about - well at least some of them are their phones.

Garbage- if they act like that- they are probably just living in their parents’ basement.

Not voting is also saying that everything is okay the way it is. Plus there are always write ins.

To clarify, I am not advocating that. I merely try to explain the reality…i.e. that very many do not believe that their vote really will make a difference. We must deal with that reality.

I agree, getting rid of the bad ones in primaries is important/necessary. But can this be done sufficiently well to make the Party truly democratic? Here I’m far less certain. I speak as one who was awakened by the civil rights movement and Vietnam war. For nearly 50 years now, I’ve been an activist, then initiator/organizer/leader, recruiter of pro-democracy candidates and campaign leader, and even a candidate (coming recount-close in a county where D’s were only 27% of the registered voters). In the latter instance, I did it with an almost complete absence Party support, because as an environmental activist/leader the best the business-oriented Party establishment could do was tolerate and not actively subvert me. Occasionally, over the long span of political involvement, I reached out to other more democratic activists with the suggestion that we try to “reform” and/or “take over” the Party,much as you suggest, beginning with our own county Party. But no one to whom I reached out had any faith that it could be done, as others had tried before. For one thing, sufficient numbers of people have to believe that it is redeemable, and that there is reason for doing it. There has to be enough of a basis for coalescing; i.e. an agreement on an explicit, clear set of principles and vision that allows such a coalition to form; and one which can be articulated to draw in a sufficiency of the partisans to support the reforms and the reform candidates.

I’m not suggesting that it can’t be done. But even establishing what a successfully reformed Party would look like would be a challenge. What would be the metrics? What principles…and how would they be ensured? I’ve suggested some fundamental principles in my various writings/posts, as a starting place, but could a meaningful, consensus set be drafted & if so, how would they ensure that the partisans & representatives actually uphold them? This begs much thought but it represents a big hurdle. If the only common principle is that R’s are bad, blue is good, etc., then nothing is gained. And I’m afraid that right now, that is the driving paradigm for much of the Party. Even the self-labeled “Resistance” seems for the most part only interested in changing the color of the banner over the White House & Congress; principles be damned.

Well, on most domestic social matters, I might agree. i.e. on “social identity” matters of race/gender/sexuality/reproductive / freedom of/from religion, for example. Also on public education (though plenty of D’s have enabled the growth of the charter school movement which has provided the foot in the door for ending the notion of equal opportunity public education). And while the Party leadership kept single payer / Medicare for All off the table while discussing health care reform, they at least advocated for some improvement in accessibility.

But on foreign policy, imperialism, interventions & support for “friendly” dictators, suppression of democracy elsewhere, military spending that removes all opportunity for improving conditions domestically, destruction of democracy at home (ref. NAFTA & TPP’s ISDS provisions), refusal to reign in capital’s political influence, etc… not so much.

For much of my 50 years of political awareness, I’d have agreed. However, from the trajectories - whether from the “small stuff” like the absurd expansion of the wealth/power gaps to the gradual emergence of the surveillance state and loss of privacy to the absurd growth in military spending (which the Congressional D’s were almost all on board for), to climate destabilization with all its implications, from increasing geopolitical chaos, mass starvations and even radical deconstructions of civilization (to say nothing of the beginning of the 6th great extinction event which may be our own end); I will argue that “time” is a luxury we no longer have. We no longer have time for mere incrementalism, or what some have called “fortress liberalism”.

Does this means I have a death wish? NO! It means that I consider it wishful thinking that if we only can get rid of the R’s we’ll somehow be able to pull ourselves out of this nose-dive/death spiral.

Does it mean doing nothing then? Again, NO! While my own long-term observations tell me that lessers of evil choices represent a false dichotomy and a false comfort, this does not mean sitting back. First, electoral politics is only (now) a limited response. The system having been so completely corrupted by $$ and the time for change so limited by these new realities, I’m pretty sure that electoral work itself is insufficient. Sure, I’ll support (with $, effort, etc.) those rare candidates who recognize the realities & share my values, principles, etc. I’ll do my best to help eliminate/replace/prevent the worst D’s, as I can. But I won’t stop there. I’ll support Independents or 3rd Party candidates who better represent me. I’ll continue to try to hold elected officials accountable. But again, all this is electoral politics.

As I’ve also often written, I believe that the urgency and criticality of this moment is such that we now need a mass movement that is well beyond electoral politics. We need a new American Spring, similar in force to the Arab Spring movements, but birthed from very clear shared values and principles; and organizational structure that can strategically plan / coordinate the use of the only power the people really have at this time: our combined economic power. This pertains to the potential use of every economic tool, from strategic, sustained boycotts, to labor actions (strike, sickouts, slowdowns, etc.) to tax protest and forms of civil disobedience. All these will likely require willingness to risk / sacrifice comfort, economic “security”, freedom & even, I’m afraid, lives; much as those who led & supported the labor movement had to sacrifice.

Will it happen? Probably not until the shit really hits the fan in ways that enough people feel it directly. Will that be soon enough? Only time will tell. I choose to remain hopeful.

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Not if they still have fees to pay and those can be really high and hard for a felon to pay back.