From Gene Weingarten's "None of the Above," in Sunday's Washington Post Magazine, a Muskegon, Michigan man elects not to vote:
...I point out that if Ted favors Kerry but doesn't vote, he's really voting for Bush. Ted doesn't see it that way. The way he sees it, a vote for either man is a vote for a liar, a member of the privileged class who will promise whatever it takes to get your vote and then do whatever it takes to keep the country safe for the privileged class. Screw 'em all.
What about voting as a moral issue? The only moral issue, Ted says, is the immorality of the guys asking for our votes: "I feel fine about myself. I can look at myself in the mirror and not feel bad about not voting."
It turns out that only half of the total U.S. population registered to vote turn out to do so. This year, only about 60 percent of registered voters are expected to go to the polls.
In short, there is no political force more to be reckoned with, no constituency potentially more influential, no voting bloc potentially mightier, than those who are too lazy or indifferent or disaffected or angry to go to the polls. The candidate of a Nonvoters Party would win in a cakewalk. You know, theoretically.
The voice of their silence is deafening. It may be, as some studies suggest, that their political preferences would mirror those of voters, anyway. But the sheer number of nonvoters is so great that, in a close election, even the most minuscule difference in their pattern of preference could be decisive. If only they would vote.
The article is an interesting read, but don't let the photographs and Weingarten's verbal imagery fool you into thinking that Muskegon is a trailer-trash town:
Muskegon is a hurtin' place. Its downtown is desolate, the most impressive landmark being a pair of enormous sand dunes, six stories high, in an empty lot right across from the tattoo parlor. They're pulverized concrete, all that remains of a downtown mall that was returned into dust after the businesses fled for the 'burbs.
I visit Muskegon several times every year. It's a beautiful city on Lake Michigan with uncrowded beaches and friendlier people than Weingarten's Washington, D.C. It seems that Weingarten intended to paint the picture already imprinted on his mental canvas before leaving D.C.: unsophisticated, culturally challenged Nascar fans in a small town with nothing to do but drink beer and watch TV. Come on. You don't have to fly out to another state to find those people, Gene. You see them every morning, two feet away from you, as you drive five miles per hour in our rush hour traffic.