During the 2008 election, 225 million adult Americans were registered to vote -- but only 131 million of them went to the polls. More than 90 million shrugged off their chance to take part in democracy. Surveys indicate that the same ratio will ignore 2012 balloting.
That's sad and disappointing. Intelligent people who care about their nation, state, county and city have a responsibility to learn issues and help choose leaders.
America made history by becoming the first modern society with "government of the people, by the people, for the people." It's a shame that this noble plan has eroded, becoming government by part of the people.
Some jaded folks may think their vote is inconsequential. But they're wrong. White House adviser David Axelrod wrote:
"Races across the country are regularly decided by razor-thin margins. In 2000, Al Gore lost by 537 votes in Florida. If 537 people had thought to go out that day and vote -- much less to knock on doors or contribute to his campaign -- we almost certainly would not have gone to war in Iraq. We would not have squandered a multibillion-dollar surplus that Bill Clinton worked so hard to build. We would be way down the road on issues like climate change, and we almost certainly would have a different Supreme Court. By a difference of 537 votes, history was changed."
Speaking of the historic 2000 election, "green" candidate Ralph Nader got 97,000 Florida votes. If most of them were siphoned from Democrat Gore, it means that Nader unwittingly put the Republican Bush-Cheney ticket into the White House. What a tragedy of unintended consequences. Therefore, voting requires serious thought.
The chairman of West Virginia's Mountain Party berated The Charleston Gazette because we endorsed major Democrats, not Mountain nominees, in the Nov. 6 election. Well, the Nader lesson from a dozen years ago applies. While we admire some Mountain Party views, the small third party has no chance to win. So, voting for its nominees incurs a risk of bleeding away enough Democratic support to let Republicans prevail.
In the 2012 presidential race, The Atlantic says the Obama-Biden team hopes that hundreds of volunteer-run Democratic get-out-the-vote offices around America will bring enough people to precincts Nov. 6 to secure victory in the razor-thin race. West Virginia has few of these offices, because they probably couldn't change the outcome in this rural, mountainous, less-educated, "red state." The offices are concentrated in crucial swing states.Regardless, we hope this newspaper's readers don't join the 90 million who flunk their citizenship test. Be responsible: Study the issues and candidates. Then go to the polls and participate in democracy.