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Every four years there is a flurry of creativity poured into compelling people to vote. You might recollect the Samuel Jackson classic, or the controversial yet interesting "first time" double entendre.

There were others, including Errol Morris' cheeky video at the New York Times' website which is ironically titled "11 excellent reasons not to vote" wherein we hear the popular reasons people propose for abstaining, and a gentle exposition on the silliness of those ideas, climaxing with a charming confession of the real civic pride that voting ought to be, as one interviewee states:

When you come out there is a... you know, "now we're all on the other side" experience and... let's go get a drink and celebrate this thing we only get to do once every 4 years...
I'm grateful for all of it, but there's something tragic embedded within it.

In September of 2009 I wrote a diary called Republicans poised for a comeback a la 1994 for which I received 3 recommends, one hot-listing, one donut and many, many comments telling me I'm an idiot.

I'm not here to say I told you so because I was in as much denial as everybody else and the title of my diary was more a warning whistle than a prediction.

But one stark fact of American politics that has always had me fixated is this:

That is the electoral turnout of presidential years alongside the electoral turnout in interim years, alternately referred to as off-years and, what I consider the only acceptable appellation, non-presidential years, but what ought to be referred to as a pathetic fumble.

As righteous as those star-studded pleas on behalf of the presidential nominee are, they amplify the vacuum of effective get-out-the-vote efforts in non-presidential years.

As endearing as Morris' video's character is when she encourages everyone to "celebrate this thing we only get to do once every 4 years" she is wrong, and perpetuating a sentiment that is ubiquitous and devastating, particularly since this misperception is held in confounding disproportion by Democratic voters.

The repercussions are much more insidious than simply electoral losses. As if the resulting Republican swings alone weren't enough to merit crisis management, consider how, even on this site, the idle speculations as to what Obama or congress "could've, should've done" to have kept Americans from "turning against them" were legion. Yes even here in this bastion of liberalism and paragon of accuracy it is simply a matter of course to analyze why people "changed their minds."

That is not a dig at the site but merely a poignant symptom of a systemic, media manufactured myth of "Republican Revolutions" and "Shellackings" that are nothing of the sort, and the ensuing effects are far greater than just overly tucked tail.

There is the faux prestige awarded to such worthless rabble as Newt Gingrich, Joe Scarborough, Marco Rubio, Rand Paul or the "Tea-Party," Matt Kibbe or Judson Phillips.

The lie - the grand lie that something is being "said" by the electorate in lieu of what should be the narrative of, "gee Bob, what the hell is wrong with people? Did everyone get drunk and forget there was an election?" - is the excuse to flood the airwaves with even more blathering Republicans with their worthless speculations as to how America has embraced their absurd Contract With America or their "small government" philosophy because "it is, after all, a center-right country!"

It allows people - even on liberal sites and shows, as I made mention - to speculate what Democrats did wrong and to get into slapstick pie fights over who is or is not a legitimate Democrat when really a small percent of voters actually changed their minds but it was simply a different, more Republican electorate by way of attrition.

You might want to point to a "Public Option battle" or soap-boxlessness or "under-selling" this or "overplaying" that but I would point to the graph above. Was there a "brutal, turning off of the electorate" every two years for the past 40 years?

No, it's the tradition of "celebrat(ing) this thing we only get to do once every 4 years."

If it were a "changing of minds" then I guess 2012 was some serious make-up sex. For a small slice of the electorate this may be true in some degree. But looking at the undeniable pattern of people, for the most part, expressing their minds in presidential years and leaving the "off-years" as a carcass to the scavenger party and their militantly-voting base (not to be confused as militant voting base, though they most likely are), and considering it in the light of an evident 53% ceiling for Democrats, it's pretty apparent that the bulk of the problem is that the 30% who only do it every four years are significantly more Democratic, and that's a serious hole in the boat between hard-won presidential victories.

What really gets my hair up; what splits my grinding teeth; what sends the venoms of helplessness and hopelessness through my nervous system, is that: After all the grave pronouncements of strategic failures and coronating of Republican leaders amid the dearth of any clear accounting of the too-big-to-see truth of these interim elections, the grand effect is that we are given this new Republican Royalty and the breathless narratives of our country's desires, not by the paltry 38-40% who show up, but merely by the 17-21% who voted for the GOP! That percentage lines up with a lot of ignominious percentages like the 20% who approved of Bush til the bitter end. The 20% who support the Tea-Party. The 20% who believe in the non-existent Panetta-McCarthy budget plan, or whatever. You know, the 20% who are uneducated, misanthropic "keep your government hands off my Medicare" idiots. They are the drivers of a media lie that sets sail a thousand ships of bullshit, and yet all the smart people with their journalism degrees and TV networks can't manage to point out the real lesson in front of their faces: that nobody - as in, nobody who can add two plus two - had any affect on the outcome!

So we live in a country where the the Ted Nugents of the world have a sole, admirable civic quality - they vote - and a pertinent amount of the reasonable, but not necessarily politically-obsessed people don't comprehend their civic responsibility.

Ask the next ten, non-political junkies you know how often they need to vote. Ask them how many congresspeople are up for election every two years and it will baffle you how many will dribble out an answer like "half" or "a third." People just don't really know, and in their defense I'd say that our 320 million-strong nation and its necessarily monstrous government with many, many moving parts; its bifurcated body of Federal vs. State governments; its attendant bureaucracies, and the fact that it's more likely to be discussed in pastoral, patriotic purple prose of "founding fathers" and "freedom" than in the mundane mechanics of governing is a confusing study.

That and the fact that it can be boring.

So some genuine and clever efforts need to be applied to educating the average voter whose carelessness is the cause of our biennial abuse.

I write this diary to bring attention to the real cause of our problems, electorally. To encourage people to be realistic in celebrating a win and to get serious about trying to prevent the imminent swing not just in the form of seats in the house, but in the inevitable narratives that would conspire to weaken a lame-duck president, putting 2 more years into stasis, as we've been for too many congresses.

And those who would point to 2006 as evidence that there is as fair a chance for Democrats to win in non-presidential years as there are in presidential years, I'd tell you to remember it took two wars and a faltering economy to change, what I contend, is a hard and fast line.

I didn't intend to suggest what would be the way to deal with this problem, but in the flurry of writing I'd suggest, aside from piecemeal educating efforts, that actions have to be taken to "nationalize" the themes of the election in such a way that would allow for the star-studded folks among Democrats to put as much creativity into a non-presidential year as they do in a presidential year. It'd be nice if Bill Maher put a Million into an "off-year" GOTV effort.

I remember in 2010 Nate Silver pointed out that a 2% swing in the electorate for Democrats would have resulted in a Democratic house. 2%! That is not an unacheivable number.

I sure wish Samuel L. Jackson had put a little energy then, into telling people to "Wake the fuck up!"


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Comment Preferences

  •  Democrats are useless. They'll sit back now, and (6+ / 0-)

    let the rightwing dominate popular culture because they don't know - or are unwilling - to fight back with gusto. They'll let tea party 2.0 to gin up a full head of steam, they'll let deposed conservatives spread misinformation about a "stolen election" until it turns into popular wisdom, while they SIT ON THEIR HANDS AND HIGH FIVE THEIR SPECIAL INTEREST GROUPS. Then will see-saw hard right at the next election cycle and they'll act like they couldn't prevent it. ASSHOLES.

    Send conservatives to for re-education.

    by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:42:43 AM PST

    •  As an example of their weakness, look (4+ / 0-)

      at how the Republican party has acted lately to get "Right to work" passed in Michigan. Their actions are GOLDEN 'EFFIN BULLETS to even an amateur advertising professional. This information should be on PRIME TIME and SHOVE DOWN VIEWERS THROATS. Instead, the silence from Democrats and the "liberals" in power is deafening.

      This is a PRIME EXAMPLE of what I believe now - Democrats DON'T WANT TO FIGHT. Time to flush them, if that's how they want to be.

      Send conservatives to for re-education.

      by filthyLiberalDOTcom on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:49:48 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

      •  You are right and I first noticed this (0+ / 0-)

        "sitting on their hands right after Clinton was elected in '92.  No balls.

        This "Trickle Down" thing has turned out to be somebody pissing on my leg and tellin' me it's rainin'.

        by swtexas on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 12:52:31 PM PST

        [ Parent ]

    •  Not So Sure; That's Been the History But Groups (6+ / 0-)

      who've taken serious hits lately are not going to stay politely in line this time. Unions for one have been very pointed about this.

      Party leadership is a big factor, and there's no doubt that in terms of motivation we got a President particularly ill-suited to our needs for 09-10. There's some tentative evidence he's changed his stance and may put motivation on a higher priority than during his first 2 years.

      If he and the party and some of our demographics are sufficiently chastened from 2010, it could be a much better outcome in 2014. For the first time in years I'm seeing some encouraging signs.

      We are called to speak for the weak, for the voiceless, for victims of our nation and for those it calls enemy.... --ML King "Beyond Vietnam"

      by Gooserock on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:49:52 AM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  anyone who says we only do it "every four years" (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    a2nite, twigg, N in Seattle

    is either geriatric and referring to sex, or poorly schooled in civics.

    I have voted in EVERY election since I turned 18 in 1987. Every. Single. One.

    The other fallacy is that our votes for President mean something. They do, kinda, but frankly, it's the Electors who make the final decision, and barring that, Congress.

    I never thought I would say this, but thank Goddess for the little hold-over from Feudalism that remains in our Constitution.

    I am gay, and I'm getting married in the Episcopal Church, just like my great-grandmother did.

    by commonmass on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:47:58 AM PST

    •  got you by 16 years (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:

      I turned 21 (that was voting age way back then) in 1971. I have never, ever, missed an opportunity to cast my ballot.

      Also, with regard to your point about the Electoral College ... I may get to actually vote for Obama/Biden a week from today, as I'm the Alternate Elector from WA-07.

      Labor is prior to, and independent of, capital. Capital is only the fruit of labor, and could never have existed if labor had not first existed. Labor is the superior of capital, and deserves much the higher consideration. -- K.Marx A.Lincoln

      by N in Seattle on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:19:22 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  yeah! (4+ / 0-)
    ... actions have to be taken to "nationalize" the themes of the election in such a way that would allow for the star-studded folks among Democrats to put as much creativity into a non-presidential year as they do in a presidential year. It'd be nice if Bill Maher put a Million into an "off-year" GOTV effort.
    Thanks, good diary. One gets the feeling the president's electoral apparatus, effective as it is, is satisfied merely electing the president.

    Who's job is to ensure a D house majority? I mean, I know there is a thing called "DCCC," but one is skeptical. Are they good enough to ID winnable districts, recruit good candidates, run the GOTV thing, and win?

    IIRC the DCCC in past years was famous for emphasizing people like Heath Shuler.

    An ambulance can only go so fast - Neil Young

    by mightymouse on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 10:48:36 AM PST

  •  I have grown tired of all the diaries.. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    corvo, radmul, mightymouse

    Telling us how screwed the Republicans are. They're doomed, finished, can't overcome the demographics, etc.
    We said pretty much the same things in 2008.
    We all remember 2010.
    Let's beat them twice in a row, or even 3 or 4 times in a row, before declaring them dead.

  •  we need to hold the house and senate (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Illinois IRV, mightymouse

    and could lose both in two years without a GOTV effort

    "Your victory has demonstrated that no person anywhere in the world should not dare to dream of wanting to change the world for a better place." -- Mandela

    by agoldnyc on Mon Dec 10, 2012 at 04:29:39 PM PST

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