Of Sloths and Voters

Sloths of america2When I started writing this blog I had no idea I had this much to say about politics, but I guess I set the tone from my very first posting – which was about how the DNC stalked me during the last election.

I’ve also written about how few people voted in the last election, but unlike the blockhead – I mean contributor – on NPR the other day, it’s not because I believe that people are sloths. Really – he was comparing non-voters to sloths and apparently being compared to one is a bad thing.

Sloths Don’t Vote

He was using the D.C. mayoral election as an example saying just 36,000 voted in that election (the story has since been quietly updated, fixing the incorrect number – over 96,000 people voted for D.C. Mayor – 60,000 fewer sloths than initially reported). While I will agree that a 21% voting rate is on the low side, I don’t agree that there are 371,000 apathetic sloths (are there any other kind?) in the D.C. metro-area.

In the past, I would have just yelled at the radio, explaining loudly and repeatedly why I thought the contributor was crazy and missing the point, but now I have a blog. It’s much safer than debate-driving.

The voters ARE voting when they don’t vote, the politicians just aren’t listening.

There’s a phenomenon in psychology that I think applies here – Learned Helplessness:

Learned helplessness is a behavior in which an organism [like a voter] is forced to endure aversive, painful or otherwise unpleasant stimuli [like idiot politicians, endless political campaigns and ineffectual government], becomes unable or unwilling to avoid subsequent encounters with those stimuli, even if they are escapable [by, say, voting for someone sensible who isn’t a career politician].

Learning Helplessness in the Political System

We the voters have learned through past experience that no matter what action we take, politicians are  self-serving numskulls who think more about winning and their party than their voters. If we vote for the other guy, we’re just voting for an idiot of a different flavor, if we vote for the other other guy, than we’re just throwing our vote away because there’s no way Americans can keep track of three political parties at one time – we’re black and white (or blue and red) sort of people.

But a “no-vote” is a vote. And the “no”s have it.

A no-vote is a vote that says loudly that Washington is full of career politicians not representative of the people (unless said person is a corporation) and it doesn’t matter who “wins” since the voters always lose.

A no-vote says nothing will change no matter what lever we pull or bubble we color on election day. Even the most well-intentioned politician will screw it up.

A no-vote says government as it is currently practiced does not impact our daily lives in a meaningful way. Let the idiots in Washington to get on with it and we’ll live our lives trying our best to figure out how to navigate the obstacles placed in our path.

Who better to know what a no-vote means than the people who live in D.C.? 79% of D.C.-ians decided that they couldn’t be arsed.

When we really care about something, we vote. American Idol voting totals in last year’s finale top 125 million. That’s pretty close to the number of people who voted in the last presidential election.

I’m Jae and no matter what I do, this message will never make NPR.


5 thoughts on “Of Sloths and Voters

    1. I like the “start over” bit. As long as it doesn’t involve more campaigning!

      I have in the past suggested randomly choosing names from the phone book – holding office would be sort of like jury duty.



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