America: Best thing going on the planet

by Grant McGee

On Wednesday morning we’ll wake up in a new America.
A revolution will have occurred overnight. The federal executive regime in charge in Washington will either repulse the opposition or be overrun by it. It ought to be a relatively quiet revolution as it has been for over 200 years, the battle decided by millions of folks going to the polls.

Things will be decided here in Curry County too. Will there be a change in the blend of folks who make up the county commission? Who will be the new county treasurer? Who’s going to represent us in Santa Fe?

If you have voted early or if you plan on getting out on Tuesday to mark your New Mexico ballot, I salute you.
If you have no intention of taking the time to vote, what’s with that?

If you’re not going to vote, I suppose you’re joining the legions of Americans in forming a “post-democracy.” The concept is outlined in the book “Fixing Elections” by Steven Hill. Citizens participating in a post-democracy America “…have given up because they don’t think politics or elections matter in their lives. They have chosen to toss their political fate to the winds…”

I don’t have the answer on getting folks to vote. I’ve seen some ideas on incentives. One is a dessert table or free adult beverage for people who just voted, set up in an adjacent room, sponsored by community organizations not political parties.

Other ideas include making Election Day a national holiday or to have Saturday elections. Once their ballot has been marked, give voters sales-tax-free privileges for the day, give them a lottery ticket or give them an overall tax break.
We could fine people who don’t vote. That’s done in a number of countries around the world, including Australia, Austria and Uruguay. In Belgium, if a registered voter doesn’t come to the polls four times consecutively, their right to vote is taken away for 15 years.

It’s sad to see low voter turnout for elections. In some areas of the country, voter turnout has reached single-digit figures. There are countries (including Italy, Serbia, Colombia) where, if voter turnout is below a certain percentage point, the election is nullified and rescheduled.

Voter turnout for the 1996 presidential election was the lowest in 70 years — 49 percent. The turnout for the 2000 race was up, but not by much — 50.7 percent.

According to the Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance (www.idea.int) the United States of America sits between Botswana and Chad in the rankings of voter turnout worldwide: 138th.

I think about our country. It’s not purple prose, jingoism, or wrapping myself in the flag: I love this place. Like every relationship though, I have my moments with what goes on here. When I look at the rest of the world, though, I mean really look at the rest of the world, I think we have the best thing going on the planet.

When I think about all we have I wonder why perfectly able people won’t go to the polls.

After all, we didn’t win the Revolutionary War by sitting on our duffs watching “Desperate Housewives,” “CSI” or “Survivor Vanuatu.”

So come on, get out there and vote.

Or at least get registered for the next time.

Grant McGee hosts the weekday morning show on KTQM-FM in Clovis. Contact him at:
blisscreeksw@yahoo.com