I just voted early in DC at the central voting headquarters at Judiciary Square. The place was nearly empty and the staff were uniformly friendly and welcoming. This contrasts with my last visit to Judiciary to vote early, on a Saturday. I remarked on how few people were there and what a shame it was.
"So what?" asked a hostile male staffer at one of the posts. Was this a time to explain why? Should I tell a staffer about the importance of voting even in the bluest area in the country?
I buttoned my lip and proceeded to the paper ballot table.
The vote is so important that even Trump is stumping hysterically all over the place, even with all the roadblocks in place to prevent the people from asserting their will. I have to say that it's not all bad that voting is so much in the news, even by means of an arch enemy.
But I read a disturbing op-ed in yesterday's New York Times pointing out that a large percentage of the population don't even bother to register. Are they the true determiners of our fate? asked contributor Roxane Gay.
Without doing more math, I can say that the 42 percent (another figure is 47 percent!) that stayed home in 2016 constitute as many as 109 million people. Of course the numbers go down in the midterms. Theirs is the power. I would bet that most of them aren't conservatives. I once wrote that If everyone that could vote did vote, we'd never have a GOP president again. I'm probably right.
Power to the people, certainly! Power of the people, certainly! Democracy must be hard work, certainly.
We know why many stay home. They are convinced that their vote won't count or they have so many jobs they have no time to in states that lack early voting. A 20-year-old African American taxi driver said that he couldn't discern any reason why he should vote. I wasn't in that cab. Otherwise, he would have heard my spiel. But registration is so complicated these days, designed to exclude people like him, that even if I'd reached him he would have given up.
We may have a plutocracy on its way to fascism. But we're also ruled by this huge bloc of indifference that should not be justifiable.
The clock is ticking on so many emergencies: the prospect of fascism and the end of the Earth altogether top the list, and there's so much more.
Miracles are always possible, I tell myself in order to keep on fighting.
Of course democracy is an ideal we've never reached. But more work is needed to climb higher up that Everest. Lots more.