This guru ran the toughest cult in all the Himalayas. The initiate climbed the mountain, and the guru initiated him by uttering a one-liner. After exactly one year of silence the initiate was allowed to return to the guru’s mountain lair, whereupon it was his turn to make a comment. Then another year of silence. At the beginning of the third year it was the guru’s turn again.
The guru got things going by telling the initiate, “Life is like a well.”
Then a year of silence, during which the initiate pondered the guru’s wisdom, and then again climbed the mountain, approached the guru and asked, “Why is life like a well?”
Then more silence. At the beginning of the third year the initiate again faced the guru. The guru gazed upon him and said, “You know, you have a point. Life is NOT like a well!”
Several elections ago, after a lifetime of hearing thousands of political gurus rave endlessly that “We’ve got to get out the vote!”, I asked myself, “Why do we have to get out the vote?” And I think I have a point. It should be illegal to “get out the vote” in the sense that commandment is most frequently issued.
Obviously, mine is such a pitiful minority view that most of you have likely never heard it before. Those charged with “getting out the vote” don’t feel they’re doing anything wrong. They brag about their “great ground game.” I think it should be outlawed. The Constitution clearly tells us when voting takes place. There obviously should be no effort to deny, prevent or impede a citizen’s right to vote. But neither should there be pro-active “getting out the vote.” I know when the voting takes place. And I want to vote with people like me.
Example: The organizer tells the residents of a nursing home or the members of a union that the bus is taking us all down to vote at 2 p.m. on Tuesday; No! If the nursing home resident or the union member on his own initiative asks if transportation will be provided – that’s perfectly OK.
An announcement online or on a bulletin board that transportation and assistance will be provided to would-be voters – that’s fine. But for the organizer to dare say, “Jake, I see you haven’t signed up for our trip to the polls yet” – wrong, and I mean jail-time wrong!
We’re constantly hectored by those wailing about what a disgrace it is that we Americans have such poor voter turnout. Other countries are held up as great role models for Americans to copy and catch up with. Twaddle! You don’t improve American democracy by loading zombified individuals into vans and marching them narcoleptically into a voting booth, with instructions, of course, on which levers to pull!
Did you ever ask yourself why certain other democracies have higher voter turnout than the United States? Malta, Chile, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and other democracies log percentages from the upper 80s to 95 percent, putting America to shame with our 63 percent (extremely high) clear down to the mid-40s. Those countries have educated, concerned, involved populations. In fact, a country’s turnout reflects the intelligence and concern of that country’s population. You don’t treat a patient’s high temperature by dipping the thermometer into ice water, and you don’t improve the civic culture of a country by good “ground games” and lots of vans and drivers on Election Day.
But that’s exactly what the wailers and exhorters seem to want. As they go lamenting our low voter turnout, they sound as if they’re talking about our blood pressure. They’re not. Once upon a time in this country you had to be a property owner to vote; or be male, white, pay a poll tax or face reprisals when the so-called “Republican” at the voting table was really a Democrat in disguise who saw your finished ballot. In our lifetime, in Oklahoma, there were no voting booths. National columnist Paul Hollrah succeeded in getting voting booths adopted after an unbelievable number of death threats. All those impediments to voting have been removed. And that’s enough. Mission Accomplished! The only “property” you should have to own in order to vote today is a genuine interest in who governs you and how, and the knowledge of where and when to go vote.
If all ground games and all zombie round-ups are eliminated and the voting turnout dips to 10 percent or lower, so what? That’s the true number of those who care and the true number of those who should be voting.
I’d have to be broken in five places, three of them crucial, with tubes sticking out of my throat to give up my vote. Why should my influence in this government be reduced by a zombie voter whose organizer rented a guy with a van?
You say you’re tired. You’re busy. You’re “up-to-here.” It’s a great day for fishing. Those political bums are all alike.
I understand, Brother. You don’t want to vote. I understand, Brother. Don’t let it bother you.
I’ll do the voting for you.