Alright, I promise this will be the last piece I write on this preposterous election, that carnival sideshow that feels like it came straight out of some sort of 20th-century absurdist drama. And no, I’m not going to pout like a whiny little brat because we lost or pull some “Not My President” nonsense because like it or not, Donald Trump is my president. And me sitting here bitching about it isn’t going to change that shit.
But you know what would have changed that shit? Votes. Pure and simple- votes. I’ll let a constitutional scholar write an essay on why it is far past time to remove the electoral college, especially since it will probably fail to protect us the way it was supposed to from a nightmare scenario just such as Trump. It doesn’t matter that Hilary won the popular vote because that is not how this game is played. Donald Trump got more votes where it mattered, and that’s all that’s important in the presidential election game.
And give Donald Trump credit for that. He got people to vote. He grabbed America by the pussy and made people angry enough to actually give a damn. Roughly half of the slightly over 100 million people that cast a ballot in this year’s election voted for Donald Trump. But what about those that didn’t vote? Sadly, this year signaled the lowest voter turnout for a presidential election in two decades, and polling data compiled by FiveThirtyEight suggests that the drop-off was particularly precipitous in areas that Obama won handily in both 2008 and 2012. Meanwhile, guess what demographic voted at a higher rate than any other? Men over 75. It also turns out that you were much more likely to vote if you were white and wealthy. Hmmmm….I wonder which candidate did well with old, rich white men. While it will still take awhile before more concrete data gives us a fuller picture, I think it is safe to say that while Trump rallied his base to get out to the polls, traditional liberals or voters that at least lean in that direction were far less likely to actually vote in this election.
Could Hilary have used those votes in key swing states such as Wisconsin, Ohio, and Pennsylvania? You’re damn right she could have. With races that tight, it is the voters who stayed home, even more than those who showed up, that cost Clinton the presidential election. You know who you are out there. Shame on you.
If that sounds like I am going all parental guilt trip on you, it’s because I am. After all, between the girlfriend and myself, we have four kids to chastise on a regular basis- that and fulfilling my civic responsibility to get off my lazy ass and go vote always harkens me back to the words my own mother use to instill in me on this very subject, “If you don’t vote, you can’t bitch.” Well-stated, mom. You always have been more pithy than me.
To be honest, I am not mad at Trump supporters for wreaking havoc on our political system and leaving a steaming pile of dog poo on the doorstep of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. At least they can say they showed up, and often that’s half the battle. No, the people I’m pissed at are the ones who couldn’t be bothered to vote or who stayed home because they felt both candidates were terrible. Of course they were, but stop your whining and do what the rest of us do: figure out which one is more terrible than the other, because let’s face it, in this particular case, that distinction should have been fairly obvious, and your passing on the subject allowed this whole boondoggle to happen. Just as bad were those who voted “their conscience” by voting for Gary Johnson, the Libertarian Party candidate who has apparently smoked so much weed that when he was asked to name a foreign leader, he began to fumble around like Sarah Palin trying to name a magazine she reads regularly. You might as well have voted for Mickey Mouse, who, in fairness, might have had a better grasp of foreign policy.
I understand if you feel powerless and disenfranchised, but voting is where you get to take some of that power back and hold our nation’s leaders accountable for the decisions they make while in office. Voting isn’t going to solve all of our nation’s problems, but if you can’t even be bothered to vote, you are not part of the solution, you, my friend, are part of the problem. I have avoided writing about Colin Kaepernick, the controversial 49ers quarterback who has protested the unequal treatment of African-Americans in the criminal justice system by taking a knee during the national anthem, largely because I valued his cause even if I was unsure of his methods. He lost all respect from me, however, when he openly acknowledged that he had not voted in this year’s election, claiming that it would be “hypocritical” for him to vote. No, dumbass, it was hypocritical of you NOT to vote.
Taking a knee during the national anthem brings much needed attention to the issues of civil injustice- it’s a nice symbolic gesture. But it doesn’t really do jack squat. Know what does? Voting. By suppressing your own voice, you have allowed a blatantly racist asshole to become the next leader of the free world. So I’m sorry, Colin, and all the rest of you who opted not to vote, but from this point going forward, I don’t want to hear what you have say. Because when it really mattered, you were notably silent.
Steven Craig is the author of the best-selling novel WAITING FOR TODAY, as well as numerous published poems, short stories, and dramatic works. Read his blog TRUTH: in 1000 Words or Less every THURSDAY at www.waitingfortoday.com