Our forefathers envisioned a representative democracy, a republic, on these shores. It had never been done before, and most who advocated it had only read about the theory of democracy in history books that talked about how Athenian democracy worked in a Greek city-state. Some of our greatest patriots such as Alexander Hamilton and Benjamin Franklin did not think it would work. Even Thomas Jefferson, who wrote the Declaration of Independence declaring that all men had certain inalienable rights, wasn't sure that one of those rights should be the right to vote. Well, here we are 237 years later. Democracy has proven itself. Or has it?
A speaker was giving a speech titled, "What is wrong with our government?" to a local civic club. By way of illustration he had the entire group stand up. He then instructed half of the group to sit down. "You," he said, "are the half of our adult population who are not registered to vote." He then instructed half of the standing group to sit down. "You, are the half of the registered voters who choose not vote on Election Day." He then instructed half of the rest of the group to sit down. "You, he said, are the voters who voted for the one who lost the election." He then addressed those still standing. "You were the winners in the last election. You represent about 12.5 percent of the total adult population. In short, the thing that is wrong with our government is that those who are elected represent only about 12.5 percent of our people."
In checking the actual statistics of the last election, the speaker was not quiet accurate. However, he was close, close enough to make a real indictment of a significant portion of our population who choose not to participate in our most important democratic functions, our elections. The actual numbers for the 2012 national election were as follows: total eligible voting population, 238 million; total registered to vote, 153 million; total who actually voted, 133 million. Thus, only 61 percent of eligible voters went to the polls. President Obama won 51.1 percent of the popular vote. Thus, fewer than one in three of our eligible voters actually voted for him. Stated another way, two out of three eligible voters either didn't vote or preferred another candidate.
In the old "Pogo" comic strip there was a short commentary on the state of our country. It said, "We have seen the enemy and he is us." Our government is a representative democracy. It is dependent upon the expression of the will of the people. Elections are our purest form of that direction. It is hard to assume an election provides direction for our government when two out of three eligible voters do not support the winning candidate. Yes, we have seen the enemy ... in the mirror.