To reaffirm our personal belief in democracy?
To advance some personal interest, desire or need?
To prevent government from doing something we do not like?
To make our world a better, safer place for our descendants?
Obviously, that short list pretty well covers most of the basic reasons why people even bother to go to the polls on Election Day.
There are also many more specific reasons why people vote and how they vote. Sometimes those reasons are positive. Often negative.
What seem to be the main specific reasons this year of how most people see their opportunity to vote?
–There surely are numbers of women (and men) who hope to elect our first female President.
–There are surely a lot of people—in both Parties—who are so fed up with campaign finance problems that they will vote for the Democrat simply to get a new member of the Supreme Court certain to reverse Citizens United.
–There are people disgruntled with their economic lives and who are interested in change for its own sake and are willing to completely upset the apple cart with a non-politician, because it can’t be worse than what they’ve got now.
–There are a few people who yearn for more efforts to work across party and ideological lines to craft workable solutions to our country’s many stalled needs, but their numbers are shrinking rapidly.
–There are too many people who resent—and properly so—the casino type problems brought on by our entire financial system, not just Wall Street, which have benefitted a very few far too well and cost too many others far too much. They seem to want smaller, fewer and less profits for the few.
–The ladders of opportunity are getting steeper and higher making it harder than ever for enough talented people to ‘make it’ and continue to create ever more jobs.
As one considers these various reasons, it should be fairly apparent that the important issues are really not about favoring one political party over another at all, but simply how people see their place affected in our democratic/economic society.
In this context, playing out leadership contests strictly along the lines of party platforms looks more and more ridiculous.
Democracy (whatever the correct definition is) truly boils down to finding a whole series of compromises which set in motion forces that over time actually move the needles of change in the directions of what a majority of people need, want and deserve.
Sadly, too many citizens have been disappointed for so long by the failure of those changes to materialize that they have become polarized, focusing only on what is number one on their list of needs or fears. In that process, they swallow hard and blindly accept the baggage that comes with their priority. So, some Republican voters, primarily concerned about immigration, will back a candidate whose views on social issues may be far different from their own; Democratic voters, who might be concerned about economics, may support a candidate whose position on gun control is anathema to them.
There is no organizing rationale in how all those competing issues are packaged!
Looking past the nominating stage of our electoral process, one hopes that the planners of the general election campaigns will include large doses of basic democratic PROCESS as a main goal that we all need and want.
A recent piece I did suggested that we should be thinking hard about a Center Party, which would fit between the Democratic Party on the left and the Republican Party on the right. It would be an organization that would be devoted to pulling people from both extreme opposite political poles toward the center which is the logical and right ‘place’ from which to lead and govern in a working democracy.
When asked privately, most people like to think and say they are somewhere in the center.
Those are the folks we need to count on today more than ever before.