Today was a good day because I was able to vote, which is a privilege denied far too many of our fellow human beings. Sure, I get frustrated by the amount of special interest money flowing into elections these days. And, like many of you, I wonder sometimes if my vote even matters. This being a representative democracy, there’s also the matter of finding a candidate that I feel somewhat represents my views.
But it does matter. At the end of the day we get the government we deserve, not necessarily the one we want. All the polarization, money-grubbing — whatever — it all really boils down to one very important fact: Far too few eligible voters show up at the polls.
You may ask yourself, “Yeah, so, what do I care?” I’ll give you an example. A Metro Councilman told me once that when a constituent emails about a problem, the first thing he does is check the constituent’s name against the voter rolls to see when they voted last, and if the name shows up as not having voted, the constituent is ignored.
You can bet the developers building tall, skinny duplexes vote.
There’s a much more important reason to vote, though. Voting gives you bitching rights. It’s a special honor available only to people who vote. If you don’t vote, don’t bitch.
I think the first Tuesday after the first Monday in November should be a national holiday, and that artificial, politically motivated restrictions on voting be repealed. Everyone should have the opportunity to vote and be encouraged to do so. Arguments about voter fraud are a sham. We have incredibly low instances of voter fraud, probably because the penalties for it are so high.
Of course, even if to a person everyone that can vote does vote, we still won’t rid ourselves of entrenched power so long as we have a huge swath of undereducated citizens.
Which leads me to our current issue, and Timothy Davis’ piece “To Choose or Not to Choose.” Director of Metro Schools Dr. Jesse Register has decided to “reorganize” East Nashville schools. Unfortunately, it seems he made his decision with little or no input from the very people this will effect. His response to an email questionnaire reads like a sales pitch for school choice and disregards alternatives to his plan.
Education is the key to a functioning representative democracy. Bureaucratic double-speak should be viewed as shameful. The current system is rigged so that the onus of failure falls on the teachers without ever empowering them with the tools and support they need to teach. Instead of the students, the teachers, and the parents sitting at the top of the pyramid, we now have power concentrated in the hands of statisticians who make decisions that have far-reaching consequences in the lives of students they don’t even take the time to get to know.
I’ll bet Dr. Register votes.