Is high voter turnout good?
There is a common assumption among democracies around the world that voting is a good thing and in any election, the higher the voter turnout, the better it is. That perspective is based on the belief that who gets elected and what gets passed or defeated should not be decided by a minority of people living in an area. Voter turnout in the United States has historically been low, averaging around 40% of all registered voters, and we hear people complain about that every election cycle.
On the face of it, the rationale seems logical but I believe if one looks deeper, you will question this assumption just as we've learned to question others and that especially holds true in THIS election cycle for President of the United States. It has been discussed in the media for months that it doesn't matter what Trump says, his supporters won't desert him. Trump himself even admitted to that, saying he could shoot someone in the middle of New York City and he wouldn't lose any votes.
That's what happens when we attach ourselves emotionally to a candidate instead of intellectually. It's very much like falling in love. In Percy Sledge's classic love song, 'When a Man Loves a Woman' he sings about how she can do nothing wrong in the man's eyes. Those of us who have been in love know that too. We look over faults, lies and deceptions and what other people say about her and believe only what SHE says. We do this because we're convinced we've found the perfect person for us and we don't want to tarnish that perfection with doubts. Of course, the person we're in love with never IS perfect and we discover that sooner or later, often with tragic consequences.
This scenario can happen politically as well. We 'fall in love' with a candidate because he tells us what we want to hear in a way we want to hear it and we don 't doubt him from that moment forward, no matter what he says or does. Trump's 'Make America Great Again' slogan strongly suggests that America's not great now. Many white people believe that because our chief executive for the past 8 years has been black. Because of that, he gets blamed for everything and given credit for nothing.
For example, Jim Tankersley in the Washington Post reports that middle-class Americans and the poor enjoyed their best year of economic improvement in decades last year. Median household income hit $56,500 last year, up from $53,700 in 2014, the Census Bureau reported this week. This 5.2% increase was the biggest since the bureau began tracking median income in the 1960s. Couple this with the poverty rate which fell by 1.2% which was the steepest decline since 1968, and you have clear evidence of significant economic progress in our country. Jason Furman, chairman of the Council of Economic Advisers, said "Everything you look at is what you'd want to see or better."
The President usually takes credit for improving economic conditions and suffers the blame when the news goes the other way but credit is not what Obama is receiving from the Trump crowd. They have tied Hillary at the hip with Obama and are convinced that electing Hillary would mean at least four more years of Obama and that's a thought they cannot stomach. So they either ignore any good news about the current administration or discount it.
By the way, Hillary has her fair share of supporters who feel the same way in reverse about Trump. Should all of these people vote?
The sane answer is not they shouldn't. If they're voting on emotion rather than intellect, if they're ignoring the facts, if they've been seduced by a charismatic personality, they shouldn't vote. Only highly informed voters on the issues should vote and since most people AREN'T highly informed, low voter turnout is good.
I don't think we'll see low voter turnout this election because many people will vote with their hearts instead of their heads. When we do that we're incredibly disappointed when the person we've fallen in love with betrays that love.
That's happened to many of us individually, I hope it doesn't happen to us collectively.