Here's our Secret Weapon
By Jean Godden
There's been a whole lot of hand wringing lately. Liberals -- that includes most in Seattle -- are confounded over what to do about a president who trashes political ethics, journalistic principles, the separation of powers, marital fidelity and the truth.
We can waste time debating how we got into this mess in the first place. (Would things have been different if Democrats had nominated Joe Biden? Bernie Sanders? Someone else?) But the simple truth is that too many liberals were missing in action; they were out to lunch when it came time to vote.
Number crunchers tell us that, if liberals had voted at the same rate as conservatives, Hillary Clinton would be our president today. Despite Donald Trump's (perhaps phony) appeal to the working class, Clinton would have added the states of Wisconsin, Pennsylvania and Michigan to her electoral tally, giving her the win.
President Clinton would have been able to fill a vacancy on the U. S. Supreme Court and appoint fair-minded judges to appeals court benches. No longer would Congress be seating the hyper conservatives that Trump has been selecting: candidates who are often unqualified, inexperienced and dead set against women's health and welfare.
Had liberals voted at the same rate as conservatives, this nation would be doing more to address climate change, health care, immigration reform and middle-class living standards. If more liberals had voted, cities wouldn't have to defend sanctuary status, refusing to become a police state.
Voter turnouts have worked against liberals. Last year, Americans between the ages of 18 and 24 overwhelmingly supported Clinton over Trump. But only 43 percent of them voted. Although most Americans in their 30s were more likely to support Clinton, they were less likely to vote than those in their 50s. Americans over 65 did vote -- over 71 percent of them -- but they disproportionately supported Trump.
The 2016 election numbers held true across ethnic groups. Asian and Hispanics overwhelmingly favored Clinton; but, alas, the majority of them did not vote. African-Americans, too, supported Clinton, but they, too, had sagging turnouts.
That's just the story in the last presidential election. When we look back at the 2014 midterm elections, we find that only 17 percent of the 18-24-year-old millennials bothered to vote at all.
That turnout pattern holds up when we look at Seattle. One recent mayoral candidate, 31-year-old Nikita Oliver, urged citizens to vote for her; but, since 2001, she herself had voted only seven times in the 24 elections when she could have cast a ballot. She even failed to vote in the previous (2012) mayoral race.
When asked about her dismal voting record, Oliver blamed "systemic barriers" to voting. She said circumstances had forced her to move "at least once a year." That meant she might have failed to get a mail-in ballot, but that didn't bar the activist attorney from obtaining one.
Oliver, alas, isn't the only one with a spotty voting record. Like most of us, I have acquaintances who have admitted not voting. One of them declared a pox on both parties, claiming, "There's no difference between the candidates." Still another said, "Ahh, Hillary's going to win. Why bother?" And then there were others -- some of them Bernie supporters -- who, out of protest, backed a Third Party candidate, a sure way to throw away a vote.
The idea that Clinton and Trump were equally flawed may have motivated some to shun voting. But, now that we have experienced Trumpism in all its inconsistent vagaries, I suspect some non-voters regret not casting a ballot.
We now know what happens when a self-selected candidate, unschooled in politics and government, takes office surrounded by sycophants and schooled by partisan commentators. The result has been hazardous to our democratic values.
I also believe that we all share blame for not doing more. There were phone banks and get-out-the vote drives -- here and in other states -- and we should have worked harder to support them. We should have insisted on a stronger Democratic campaign, instead of one that was just "Not-Trump." We needed more emphasis on the future: lifting wages, protecting the environment and fighting inequality.
What's to be done? How can we repair the damage that being done to our democracy? How can we reaffirm our values? Best answer to the nation's nightmare is easy, just three simple words: Register and vote. And then work on "get-out-the-vote" campaigns and make sure that others, too, cast a ballot.
Great column, Jean -- Keep them coming!!! Articulate common sense has a way of getting through!!