Apathy is never having to say youre sorry
Expanded from the Sunday, 8-8-2004, Daily
Sparks, Nev., Tribune
and the 8-13-2004 Comstock Chronicle
A version of this column also appeared in the August 26, 2004, edition of Las Vegas CityLife
"With voter turnout at an all-time low, not voting makes me even more American."
Hank Hill, Propane Salesman and Texas Cartoon Superstar
Permit me to register opposition to voter registration. A lot of good people I know, even some with whom I politically disagree, are promoting participation in the electoral process. Thats not always a good idea.
I submit that not voting is the will of a longstanding Nevada majority as demonstrated by the actions of the electorate. Or the non-electorate. Its time to analyze the expressed will of the people.
How many times have you heard a lament decrying Nevadas longtime national leadership in voter apathy anemia? Dont consider it a disease, but rather, an inoculation.
In the 2000 dyslexic election, the citizens of these parts did us proud. The denizens of the High Desert Outback of the American Dream tied with "we love the Confederate flag" Georgia among states with the lowest participation of voting age population. About four out of 10 Silver Staters and Georgia crackers registered and voted (43.8 percent).
Try as we might in the year of Katherine Harris, we didnt even take the bronze. Texas (43.1 percent) and Arizona (42.3) were edged by national champion Hawaii. The 50th state came in at the Big 5-0 with only 40.5 percent of its eligible adults showing up to vote. Talk about leid-back.
Not counting all the thousands not permitted to vote or intentionally untabulated in the Sunshine State, Florida still broke 50 percent or so in 2000. (An accurate number, of course, will never be known.)
So why encourage the bums sucking up beer on the beach to barf up another election? Florida has the second longest coastline in the country and Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., must already spot Dubya the electoral votes of the Anita Bryant state. All the signs are there that Jebya has fixed it again so that large numbers of blacks and Jews will be barred from voting against his brother.
Nationally, about half of those who can register to vote actually do. Only about half of those registrants (and often far less) bother to show up in most elections. That means the decisions get made by about 25 percent of the eligible population, roughly one in four. About half of those are on the winning side of any race. So every vote you cast for the winning side actually represents the wishes of about eight citizens, including yourself.
The lower the participation, the higher the power of your default proxy.
Given that U.S. voters are so susceptible to being influenced by TV spots and rumors spread by the likes of Lush Rambo, why encourage more of the dunderheads to cast know-nothing ballots?
Unless you think your no-account brother-in-law has significantly smartened and/or sobered up, why encourage him to participate?
You can vote on behalf of him and six others.
Since we cant give civics or intelligence tests as part of voter registration, the least we can do is be judicious to whom we recommend the process.
I take my responsibility seriously when I vote for seven other people. I like to imagine whom Im replacing (or at least cancelling out.)
Here are my personal magnificent seven:
1. Expatriate Nevada brothel owner Joe Conforte. Sparks politics hasnt been the same since he lost control of the city council back in the 1970s.
2. Underachieving Nevada State Assemblyman Don Gustavson, R-Sparks. So laid back as to be catatonic, and his record reflects it.
3. Queer-bashing, bible-thumping GOP U.S. Senate candidate Richard Ziser. (Mr. Ziser has apparently forgotten the words of Jesus of Nazareth, so Ill remind him: "Whatsoever you do to these, the least of my brethren, you do also to me.")
4. Megalomaniacal former Reno Mayor Jeff Griffin. If you like irony, look no further than Dubyas appointment of this destructive personality to the Federal Emergency Management Agency.
5. State Controller Kathy Augustine, whose only qualification for the office she now mismanages was having made change after selling drinks as an airline stewardess. But the Republican Party funded her while the Donkeyites failed to support experienced CPA Mary Sanada. The rest is horse-laughable history.
6. Illinois GOP U.S. Senate candidate Alan Keyes, transplanted from Maryland when the party failed to field a candidate. Can you say Senator Barack Obama?
7. U.S. Rep. Jim Gibbons, the favorite to replace Gov. Dudley Do-Right in two years. If some mining company thinks theres gold under the park in your neighborhood, dont expect any help from your congressman.
Thems the people I like to think I better represent at the polls. Send me your list.
Those of you who plan to vote, please exercise the franchise carefully and deliberately, including who you recommend it to.
That drunken brother-in-law has bitten us in the ass too often.
Buy him a six-pack and leave him on the beach.
Be well. Raise hell.
Copyright © 1982-2004 Andrew Barbano
Andrew Barbano is a 35-year Nevadan, a member Communications Workers of America Local 9413 and editor of NevadaLabor.com and JoeNeal.org. Barbwire by Barbano has originated in the Daily Sparks (Nev.) Tribune since 1988.
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