May Contain Blueberries

the sometimes journal of Jeremy Beker

[This is what I can only guess was a book report I wrote for my senior Government class (that would be High School)]

In the United States, the problem of people not voting has become a large problem in recent elections. One that has troubled many people in the nation. The question as to why Americans do not vote is not a question with a simple answer. There are many possible answers that have causes that date back to the founding of our country. The authors of this book give a historical outlook to why Americans do not vote. One of the major blockades to people voting is the registration system in the United States. Although many restrictions have been lowered as a result of different amendments to the Constitution, there is still not an easy way to become registered. In many European countries, the registration process is mandatory and often pushed strongly by the government itself. This is process that the U.S. government leaves to local agencies. This opens up the avenue for political parties to selectively aid different groups to register in order to win a greater percentage of the actual voters.

This problem has a twofold solution. State and local authorities must make it even easier to register by offering the services in more places (as apparently happened in the 1992 election) and then Congress must enact laws that ensure more people are given the opportunity to vote.

Another problem that exists in the country is a largely disproportionate electorate. The demographics of the people who vote is vastly different than that of the overall population. For example, although about 11 percent of the population is african american only 7 percent of the total ballots were cast by african americans. In addition there is a gap in the ernings of the electorate. Nearly 40-45 percent of the vote is cast by people in the top economic third of the while only 20-25 percent of the vote comes from the bottom third.

This problem has its roots in the unfair voting and registration rules of the past. During the period between 1888 and 1924 many southern states and some northern states tried to create a selective electorate. In the south the goal was to disenfranchise the african americans and poor whites while in the north the idea was to “improve” the electorate. This caused a narrowing of views in the major parties which further disenfranchised more people.

Another propblem that has proliferated as the country grows is that the political parties have relied on large generalizations that have few specifics. This is so as to not turn off any specific group of voters. Unfortunately this policy lessens the competition between the two parties therefore creating a lessened interest in the political arena.

This problem is a very far reaching and complicated one that does not have a simple solution. It will require a major change in the political system in this nation. The first step in this process is to increase the voter registration. The easiest way to do this is to require registration when people renew drivers licenses or something of that nature.

Hopefully. if and when these changes are made, the voting population of this country will become more aware of the issues around them.

[Apparently, I wasn’t really happy with the book, so I attached a commentary directed at my Government teacher, Mr. Hollins]

Mr. Hollins,

After reading this book, I can not resist the urge to give you my own opinion on this matter. I resisted doing this in my paper because I did not agree with many of the philosophies that were given in the book. Nevertheless I needed to express my ideas somewhere.

This book contained many facts and figures describing the different political changes over the course of history and the many different changes that took place in the political system and the individual parties, but, to me, it failed to answer the simple question: “Why don’t Americans vote?” As I read I saw all these fancy theories filled with terminoligy that seems to indicate that a lot of knowledge is being conveyed but I saw no ideas that seem to explain why. The authors seemed to concentrate more on giving the facts than on giving an explination.

To me there is a very simple reason that people don’t vote. I agree with the Japanese dignitary that said americans are fat and lazy. I don’t meen it literally, but I do think that a large portion of the population lives on a day to day basis with little concern or care about the political system in general. They only vote when they feer that they are going to lose something or gain something personally. It shows purely an instinctual survival instinct.

I realize that this is a very pessimistic view of the nation but I see very litle evidence that the United States is made up of people who are motivated enough to care about politics. When we are rated thirteenth in terms of scholastic ability compared to other first world nations, I do not find it surprising to see the trends in voter turnout.

I see no point in trying to convince all of the people who don’t vote to vote. If someone doesn’t have enough concern to get themselves registered and then vote, I DON’T want them to vote. I don’t trust their judgement. I really do believe in an elitest theory. An oligarchy sounds very comforting to me if the group in power is made up of the highly educated. I may not always like their decisions, but at least I trust that they are making rational decisions and not voting on a whim.

In the end, I saw this book as a great source of information; but, to me, it did not answer the question that I expected it to do by its title. “Why Americans Don’t Vote?”

[So, there you have it, Jeremy in high school, uncut, unedited, and uncensored. Feel free to rip into it below.]