Saturday, January 29, 2005

Great Voter Dissaffection - or sub title: Why more people watched American Idol than voted in the Election

I found a post from CW via blogexplosion who raised the point that more people sat their butts in front of a television to watch American Idol the other night than voted in the 2004 election. I wonder when the voting comes to pass for our next AI, how much it will exceed the number of people who cared about who was going to plot out our domestic and international agenda for the coming four (really, less than that now) years.

Believe it, or not, Cornel West speaks to the great voter disaffection as follows in his tremendous work, "Democracy Matters."

Starting on page 64:

"To many, our democratic system seems so broken that they have simply lost faith that their participation could really matter. The politics of self-interest and catering to narrow special interests is so dominant that so many ask themselves, Why vote?

This dissaffection stems both from the all-too-true reality of the corruptions of our systems and from the deeper psychic disillusionment and disappointment. The political discourse is so formulaic, so tailored into poll-driven, focus-group-approved slogans that don't really say anything substantive or strike at the core of our lived experience; the lack of authenticity of discourse - and the underlying lack of gravitas, of penetrating insight and wisdom on the part of politicians - is numbing. But we must keep in mind that the disgust so many feel comes from a deep desire to hear more authentic expressions of insights about our lives and more genuine commitments to improving them. Many of us long for expressions of real concern both out of hte pain ofour individual lives and about the common good - hence the power of Bill Clinton's claim that he felt our pain - as opposed to the blatent catering to base interests and to narrow elilte constituecies. We long for a politics that is not about winning a political game but producing better lives.

[...on to page 65] Both republican "vision and the democratic "vision" are deeply problematic. Our national focus has become so dominated by narrow us-versus-them disourse that it has all but drowned out authentic debate over issues...there is an underlying disgust about the preoccupation of our political leaders with partisan warfare.

The uninspiring nature of our national political culture has only enhanced the seductiveness of the pursuit of pleasure and of diverting entertainments, and too many of us have turned inward to a disconnnected, narrowly circumscribed family and social life. White suburbanites and middle-class blacks (and others) are preoccupied with the daily pursuit of the comfort of their material lives. In many cases they litterally wall themselves off into comfortable communities, both physically and socially, in which they can safely avert their eyes from the ugly realities that afflict so many of our people. Becuase they are able to buy the cars and take the vacations they want, they are all too willing to either disregard the political and social dysfunctions afflicting the country or accept facile explainations for them.

End slice:

I think West is very pertinent for many bloggers and his words salient for the climate of our times. I am reminded of two very good movies that speak to this very issue. One is Bob Roberts. This is one of Tim Robbins' best flicks. The next is Bulworth. This one is not as good as the former, but makes a powerful statement nonetheless.

Blog on friends.


roder said...

Wow, did that hit the nail on the head. I have a problem with both parties in that they seem to be hypocritical. Both strive to have "big" government while claiming to do otherwise. The Republicans want to privatize everything, while legislating morality. And the Democratics want to legalize most things, while taxing you to death for unneeded programs. So a moderate like me has no where to go. Neither party seems to speak for me. On top of that, with the electorial college, most of our votes are "wasted". We all know that the popular vote does not elect the president. So yes, many people think "why bother"?

Anonymous said...

Why does anyone vote?  

Books have been written on the logic of voting. The logic of voting is not attracive. The only vote that counts is that one vote that tips the balance to winner. Votes in the buildup are balast. Votes in excess of the one vote needed to win are excess.

The capture of reapportionment by the politicians, carving out all safe seats, has made current voting even less attractive as it once was. If your ''vote'' decides nothing, why vote?