By Ruth Gadebusch
Our worst fears came true in this election when so many couldn’t bother to vote. What could they be thinking? Or was thinking ever a part of it?
Granted, there is no guarantee that the stay-at-homes would have voted the way I, and other progressives, think but there is little evidence otherwise. Apathy made the decisions.
How ironic that Veterans Day should come on the heels of such a dismal election turnout. There are so many in the world who would give everything they own to be able to cast a vote. So many have given their lives that we might have this privilege. How could citizens not take advantage of such an opportunity? Now we all live with the results of their laziness.
So many put so much energy in giving the facts and urging all to vote. Time and money spent counteracting the efforts of the political segment who would deny the vote only to see little effect because people denied themselves. Both sides could have saved themselves the effort. The solicited just did not care.
Oh, they say their one vote just does not matter but it did, and does. In numerous cases, the outcome is still unknown coming down to the last few votes to be counted. Many that have been declared final are so close as to give no mandate; however, Republicans already appear to be using their victory to continue to harass and demean President Obama in ways more political than statesman.
Nor did the Republicans win this election by offering solutions to long standing problems, what they would do to mend. They offered only destruction of what has been accomplished by the Obama Administration. It was not even a repudiation of the Democrats. Purely and simply, Republicans won by default.
Then there is the warped Supreme Court interpretation of our great constitution giving corporations person status. It boggles the mind. Our founding fathers are not just turning in their graves but spinning at dizzying speeds! This ruling challenges credulity beyond comprehension.
As if this was not questionable enough, the justice most often casting the deciding vote in the many 5-4 decisions noted he did not believe that unlimited money in elections would corrupt. What did he think it was all about? Why did he think the laws limiting campaign contributions were created in the first place? What does he think is the purpose of all the advertising that we endured during this election? Many of us are hard-pressed not to believe that the untraceable dollars spent in this campaign have already given the lie to that theory.
Yes, I am upset, frustrated and angry at the many who stayed home. I am also upset that many of the candidates disavowed the president and stands that s/he had previously taken thus giving a split message little different from that of the Republicans. Thus, credence was given to the idea that it makes little difference whether one votes. As for those angry at the president for not accomplishing all, what do they not understand about an opposing Congress?
If changes are to be made the Democrats must get their act together within the next two years. Longer term, we must do a better job of educating people of the precious legacy of the vote. We must convince them to go beyond the advertising, all too often scurrilous and false. We must find ways to curb the excess money providing the wherewithal for the worst of campaigns. We must harness the power of the citizens in the wise use of that powerful tool: the vote.
Ruth Gadebusch, a community activist, is a veteran, a former member of the Fresno Unified School Board and the California Commission on Teacher Credentialing, and an emeritus member of the Board of Directors of the Center for Civic Education.