Pitiful at the polls

Citizens aren't getting out the vote -- they're just getting out

One woman in New York had to admit to a television camera that she'd waited in the cold all night Thanksgiving to save about 30 bucks on Black Friday merchandise.


That inspires us to ask: If we'll do that to save 30 bucks, what lengths are we willing to go to in order to save the country?

With an out-of-control ruling class in Washington spending the country into near-collapse, it's likely that saving America will require more acts of citizenship than most of us have seen in our lifetimes.

In particular, it may require that we work for, and approve, amendments to the U.S. Constitution to limit both spending and congressional terms.

If so, will we be up to the challenge?

The signs aren't encouraging: While people waited in the cold or wriggled out of bed at 3 a.m. to save a few bucks the Friday after Thanksgiving, Americans are increasingly finding it difficult to lift a finger to perform the simplest acts of citizenship -- such as voting.

Georgia just had a runoff election Tuesday in which a little over 3 percent of voters participated.

Performing a little rudimentary math reveals that, therefore, 97 percent of registered voters stayed away.

That's just pathetic, especially for a country that fancies itself as the best around.

Richmond County Board of Elections Director Lynn Bailey says she couldn't find a lower turnout than Tuesday's 3.49 percent in records stretching back to the early 1990s.

The usual suspects have been rounded up: the holidays; the weather; an uninspiring ballot. But it remains that Americans seem perfectly willing to suffer all manner of weather and inconvenience to save a few bucks in the store -- just not to vote.

American civic life is simply withering. The question is, how long can a republic survive when a good share -- in this case, almost all -- of its citizens have checked out?

Tuesday's runoff was primarily to determine the winners in two judicial races left over from Nov. 2, one on the Georgia Supreme Court and the other on the state's Court of Appeals -- both of which issue very important rulings affecting all our lives and freedoms. We might add that some very distinguished legal careers are on the line in such elections.

It makes you wonder whether judicial races ought to be decided by popular vote, if people are so tuned out. At least when judges are appointed (to be voted on later by the electorate in retention votes), the people making the appointments seem to take the task seriously. The same cannot be said for the electorate.

At any rate, a 3.49 percent turnout is an absolute disgrace -- especially considering how many people around the world and in our own country's past have risked their lives or died for the right to vote. It's a right that women and blacks in the United States had to gain through decades of protest and even constitutional amendments.

It's a good thing this current crop of Americans wasn't asked to do it.



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