Election Day is next Tuesday, November 8th. In my home state, the great state of NJ, voters will decide who represents them in the Legislature. All 120 seats are up for grabs, however as Alfred Doblin in the Bergen Record so aptly put, “Well, not really.”
He continues to by stating,
“At best two, maybe three legislative districts are considered competitive. That means either most incumbents will be reelected or the party faithful who were socially promoted up the food chain in a safe district will become legislators”
and the sad part is, he is absolutely correct. Regarding the men and women who make our laws and govern us, we are given very little choice in this country, a country that prides itself on giving its citizens 31 flavors of ice cream. I mean, there are 8 different varieties of Wheat Thins for god’s sake! An organization called Americans Elect is trying to alter this dynamic for the 2012 Presidential Election, but that is a topic for another post. Let’s instead go back to the two (potentially good, probably bad) choices that we do have.
We’ve spent $120 billion (that’s billion with a ‘b’) fighting to give people in Afghanistan the right to vote – we are trying to bring democracy to them and that is what you do in a democracy, you elect your leaders – but only 1/4 of our population actually votes, and that is in a good year. If you divide that number equally between the two parties that dominate politics (Democrats and Republicans) then you see how its possible that someone who only 1/8 of the population wants to be elected winds up in charge of your life. It’s possible that people do not vote because they think they are just deciding between a giant douchebag and a turd sandwich. It’s possible that they do not have time and/or it is not convenient. These are topics for another post as well. Again, let’s instead go back to the two (potentially good, probably bad).
I vote, year in and year out, and I usually vote for a Democrat because the Democratic Party’s platform is the one that is the most aligned with my worldview. I’ve never missed an election since I turned 18 and never plan to either. I care, and believe that the only wasted vote is the vote you do not make. I’ve complained about this issue before on this blog and five years later, nothing has changed.
Doblin concludes his op-ed with the following:
State legislatures are the test kitchens for new public policy, some of it down-right anti-American — that is, if you believe civil liberties aren’t decided by the popular vote. Some of the people elected this November to go to Trenton will be the people going to Washington in future years. If they are inarticulate, if they lack creativity, and most important, are incapable of looking at both the needs of their district and the needs of the state now, they will not change in two, four or six years.
New Jersey needs its best leaders in Washington and it needs to mold them in Trenton. If mediocrity is the gold standard, democracy is what is devalued. State elections should matter. They don’t.
And you wonder how these things begin.
To that I say, “hear hear!” Unfortunately, most of the population will not…