Voter Apathy Essay, Research Paper
Democracy can be defined as a goverment that is given power to make and enforce laws by the consent of the people governed. Although, there are many ways in which those that are governed elect those who govern. This country has a reprensentive democracy where citizens vote for officals to represent them at the local, state, and federal levels. In contrast, early Greek domecracies allowed all eligble citizens to vote on issues when they gathered in assemblies, but this could only be achieved with smaller populations. Evidence of this type of democracy is still evident in the US at the local levels, but is impossible at the federal levels. In order for a democracy to remain democratic, high levels of voter preticipation are necessary because without voter perticipation the government is illegitamate.
Since the 1960’s, when 64 percent of eligble voters participtated, voter participation has declined (in 1980 53.9% voted.) (Newsweek, 10/10/83, ) There are many reasons as to why voter are less likely to vote. Some can be cultural reasons such as behavior and beliefs instilled in children by there perents and plain mistrust for government especially among minorities. Another reason can be called structural. In America’s past there have been many obstacles placed in front of minorities and women in order to keep them from voting. Also some think just registering to vote is problem (although legislation has passed to make registering ealier voter turnout is still down.) The main problem in my opinion is political
For political and monetary reasons the two estiblished political parties ingore a large portion of the population. The Republicians seem to adhere to the upper middle class and the very wealthy while the Democrats seem to adhere to the middle class. (NYT, 10/7/96, A19) This leaves out a significant part of the US population who are eligible to vote. And it is no coquence that these two groups of eligible voter are the ones that actual vote. Because of new technology the parties can now get very accurate information on which citizens vote and attempt to sway their while nonvoters are ingored because they are less likey to vote in the first place. Not only do the parties physical ingore nonvoter but also their messages are targeted towards those that do vote. As Dan Haar and Lisa Chedekel put it in an article in the Harford Courant:
“… candidates hug the center of the political spectrum, watering down their messages, which turns off would be voters. Bush, for example doesn’t want to say his tax cut plan would give rich people more money to invest… He says his plan would help middle-class people. Likwise, Gore avoids saying he wants to redistribute income from the rich to the poor, instead saying he would invest in families.”