Tuesday, May 8, 2018

On My Mind: The Political Price of Convenience

Riding heavy in my thoughts today: the political price of convenience.

It's on my mind because we're voting today in Ohio for gubernatorial primaries, a half-assed gerrymandering fix, and a tax increase to save our county's libraries. One of those votes is a no-brainer. One is a case of three-card monte that is likely to pass so politicians on both sides can say, "be grateful you got this much." Never mind that we voted--overwhelmingly (71% For)--to fix gerrymandering three years ago with an effective date of 2021 (after the next census, which is the normal timing for redistricting and one of a thousand reasons an accurate non-partisan census is critical...and why certain political entities are actively trying to skew the 2020 census through under-resourcing, lax oversight, and biased questions).

The primaries are, well, a reflection of which puppets rise to power when the public doesn't pay attention and doesn't act. It'll be interesting to see the voter-turnout numbers come morning. November isn't that far away, and it will be a make-or-break election for equality and justice on local, state, and national levels. Yet in non-presidential election years, voter turnout is notoriously low. Zealots tend to show up, the mainstream doesn't. That's how a nation wakes up one morning to find their status as a person has been reclassified as a target or as a vessel.

Why don't most US citizens 18+ show up to vote? Because it's not convenient. Time off work, queues, parking, identification on hand, etc. It really is the little things that keep most voters away. Sure, there are the bigger issues of voter suppression, bullying/threats at the polling sites, etc., and I'm not dismissing those as very real problems in far too many communities. That said, if you ask rando on the street why they didn't vote, "too busy" is the most common answer.  A pity really.

Yes, there are those who think "my vote won't matter, it's just one vote and I've more important things to do." Things like taking care of family, meeting up with friends, going to the grocery, going to social services, waiting in the ER...Yet if voting was as convenient as taking a Facebook quiz many more citizens and communities would have their voices heard.

Let's face it, Congress really screwed the pooch when they fucked off enough that their constituents started paying attention. Making the common voter care for longer than 24 hours on an election day is the worst thing a politician can do, regardless of party. Constituents with informed opinions are inconvenient and dangerous to the longevity of a political career; particularly when that career is built on corporate interests overriding community interests. Informed constituents who have minimal barriers to voting would be revolutionaries.

The technology is there to support palm-of-your-hand convenience. Can voting be convenient and secure? Of course. The power is in the local and federal governments' hands, they just have to want to do it badly enough that they're willing to pay for it...financially and politically.

Making voting convenient, and you make politicians accountable.