Government Is Run By Those Who Show Up – But What If No One Does?
(NPN) -- Those who show up, the late Gov. George Mickelson liked to tell us journalists at his Friday news conferences during the South Dakota legislative session, run the government. But what if no one shows up?
That’s the dismaying outcome of Tuesday’s South Dakota primary election. South Dakotans didn’t show up. At least not many.
Less than a third of the registered Republicans voted and only about 11 percent of the registered Democrats and independents voted.
What, was the weather too nice Tuesday to bother to go vote? Where it was raining in the Mount Rushmore State, did voters think they would melt if they got a little wet going from their vehicle to their polling places?
Traditionally, South Dakota is a state with one of the highest voter turnouts in the nation. If it is bad here, what’s that mean for the rest of the nation?
I shudder to think.
Maybe I’m too alarmed. It was, after all, “just” a midterm election, not a “big” one where there’s a Presidential nominee to select.
But if a five-way race for the Republican U.S. Senate nod where an open seat is at stake and primaries in both parties for governor isn’t sufficiently important, then what is?
Do voters think it no longer matters who they send to Pierre or Washington?
Do voters think politicians are corrupt and bought, regardless of party?
Is government now that far removed from the people its supposed to serve that’s its too much of a bother to take 10 minutes to vote?
So, abut 20 percent of the registered voters—which is a subset of all South Dakotans 18 and above, which reduces the percent voting even more—decided not just the fate of a number of candidates for statewide and local office—but the fate of the state as well.
One in five.
Using sports, let’s put that in some perspective.
Even in baseball, batting .200 isn’t very good. Shooting free throws, that’s worse than Shaquille O’Neal was during one of his worst nights at the charity stripe. Going one for five on first downs in football means your team probably lost and lost badly. If I only return one in five serves from my opponent in tennis, I’m getting aced 80 percent of the time—and probably losing in straight sets.
But this isn’t sports, it’s our government.
It’s those “jokers” who tax us, spend our money, write laws that tell us what we can and can’t do, who try to bring about economic development, figure out whether we need to build more jails or prisons and so on and so on and so on in big and little ways that impact our lives.
So why bother voting?
Congratulations and thank you to Tuesday’s candidates, both winners and losers. You did your part in this experiment called democracy. Too bad most South Dakotans didn’t.