This infuriates me to no end. But what infuriates me even more is the fact that fully one-hundred percent of the jackasses who don’t bother to vote in the primary will start bitching about the choices they have in November, starting next week.
Back in 2006, when I was still getting dead-tree newspapers delivered, I opened up the Kansas City Star a day or two before the election to read up on the stuff that was on the ballot that I might not be well-versed enough to cast an informed vote on. Immediately, my eyes fell on the sidebar and a series of “man/woman on the street” interviews about whether or not people would get out and vote on Tuesday. Of the five people interviewed, only one was going to vote. The rest viewed the primary as “unimportant” or they were all “too busy” to vote on Tuesday.
I read it, and needed to be sedated.
The fact that four of five people couldn’t be bothered to vote in the primary set me off. I believe saying at the time that they all needed to be “bitch-slapped” or something along those lines. It’s fuzzy now, that’s about the time the tranquilizer dart kicked in. My husband is a smart man – he keeps a supply on hand during election season.
I grew up in a family that preached the gospel of the electoral process, and intoned the mantra of the importance of local and primary elections.
The first lesson taught at my grandmother’s knee was local elections. It was drilled into my head that the farther down the ballot a name appears, the more direct the impact that person is capable of having on your life, and on you individually. A bad or corrupt county sheriff is a far greater threat to you and your peace of mind, personal freedom and how secure you sleep in your bed at night than any President, Governor, Senator or Representative – and if you are voting on whether or not to put someone on the County Commission to make decisions about maintaining the roads – it’s probably a good idea to vote for someone who lives outside the city limits and who has land that’s only accessible by gravel road, rather than the butcher who lives and works in town.
The second lesson taught was the importance of primaries.
Here’s the bottom line: Before anyone gets to face us in the general, they have to walk neighborhoods and attend rallies and ice-cream socials and box suppers and town fairs and let their potential constituents get to know them. They have to show up in church halls and march in one-block-long parades in towns of 400 that are so short and sweet that kids on tricycles are part of the festivities and the little guys complete the entire thing. Doing the mundane, retail,
street level gravel road level campaigning, glad-handing, speechifying and flat out asking “will you vote for me?” over and over and over again to every last person in the district.
I will vote tomorrow, and then I will come home and I will commence with making GOTV phone calls. And if I’m lucky, fifteen percent will turn out.
By next week, someone will say something about the regular “Sophie’s Choice” we face in November. I will smile sweetly and ask who they voted for in the primary? (That’s how I reel ’em in.)
If they have an answer, I will drop it.
But if they just give me a blank stare, or tell me that they didn’t bother voting in the primary, I will (gently) let them have it.
Before we decide between us, we have to decide amongst ourselves who we want to bear our standard. At it’s best, at it’s finest, at it’s core, populist roots; this is the way politics is supposed to happen in a representative democracy.
The place to winnow out the reckless and the feckless is in the primary, not the General. And if you don’t participate in the primary, I would strongly advise that you not complain about your choices come November. Not in close proximity to me, anyway.