next time somebody chastises you for not voting, offer to sell them your vote. If they really believe it’s so god damn important and valuable, and that their candidate is so great and wonderful, they should jump at the opportunity.
A good topic to research, if possible, would be “why people don’t vote.” Nonvoting is very high, roughly 50 percent, even in presidential elections—much higher in others. The attitudes of people who don’t vote are studied. First of all, they mostly identify themselves as Democrats. And if you look at their attitudes, they are mostly Social Democratic. They want jobs, they want benefits, they want the government to be involved in social services and so on, but they don’t vote, partly, I suppose, because of the impediments to voting. It’s not a big secret. Republicans try really hard to prevent people from voting, because the more that people vote, the more trouble they are in. There are other reasons why people don’t vote. I suspect, but don’t know how to prove, that part of the reason people don’t vote is they just know their votes don’t make any difference, so why make the effort? So you end up with a kind of plutocracy in which the public opinion doesn’t matter much. It is not unlike other countries in this respect, but more extreme. All along, it’s more extreme. So yes, there is a constant class war going on.
Each of us Americans have an obligation not only to our forefathers who sacrificed much but to those of us who are coming after … us. That they may inherit a country that imperfect as it is remains the only country where we its citizens are truly free and have the right to chose … their country’s own destinies.
In my recent report, “Why Voting Matters,” I show the dramatic differences in opinion between voters and nonvoters, and argue that more voter turnout would lead to more progressive policies. One of the most dramatic gaps in opinion is between white voters and non-white nonvoters (shown below). As 2016 approaches, the question of how to mobilize the political power of people of color is increasingly being discussed with the rise of groups like Black Lives Matter. Though it’s clear that voter turnout will not be enough to fully realize political equality, it can have a dramatic influence on policy.
“Bernie Sanders’s presidential campaign is based on a simple theory: There is a reserve army of liberal voters who’ve sat out past elections but who stand ready to support a more stridently leftist Democratic nominee.
By getting these historic nonvoters to turn out, Sanders claims, he could win the general election, maybe take back the House and Senate, and have an organized public ready to pressure Congress to pass a democratic socialist agenda.
So far, this idea of a leftist political revolution has been widelydismissed as implausible by many liberal commentators — and I share a large part of their skepticism. But newresearch by Stanford political scientists Simon Jackman and Bradley Spahn has convinced me that at least one big part of it is correct: There really is a reasonably large segment of the American population that most political campaigns aren’t reaching.
It’s a segment that’s disproportionately black and Latino and decidedly more liberal than the American public as a whole. If they were turning out, it could conceivably push the American electorate to the left.
Does it matter that the wealthy turnout to vote at a rate of almost 99% while those making below $10,000 vote at a rate of 49%? It sure seems like it would, but for a long time many political scientists and journalists believed it didn’t. In their seminal 1980 study on the question (using data from 1972) Raymond Wolfinger and Steven Rosenstone argued that, “voters are virtually a carbon copy of the citizen population.” In a 1999 study, Wolfinger and Benjamin Highton find a slightly larger gap between voters and nonvoters, but still conclude, “non-voters appear well represented by those who vote.”
Bernie Sanders can only win if nonvoters turn out at the polls, and they almost never do
All the projections that suggest Sanders can’t win the nomination and the election suppose that a large slice of his supporters (or people who would support him if they could be reached) just won’t bother to vote – and that’s a pretty save bet.
The scholarly and experimental work on registering non-voters and getting them to the polls shows that this is an incredibly hard problem that no one has any great solutions for. And yet, with so many non-voters in every Congressional district and every electoral race, every race is a toss-up if you include them in. Bringing out non-voters was behind some of the great political surprises of the past decade: Dean, Obama, Trump, Corbyn, etc.
The fact that we don’t know how to get nonvoters to the polls doesn’t mean Bernie can’t win: it means we know what Bernie has to do to win.Knowing is half the battle.