Imagine picking up the newspaper – or turning on the computer if you are under 60 — and reading about a society that had abandoned the principle of majority rule and instead allowed less than 20% of its adult citizens to pick its political leaders. Where do you think this society would be located? The Middle East? Africa? Asia? South America? Pacific Rim? Europe?
Try our very own State of Georgia. Today’s local elections for mayor and city council and special elections for different state legislative seats are likely to be decided by less than 1 in 5 voters. Contrast our voter attitude to the elections that have taken place in war torn Afghanistan — a country that many American commentators contend in not suited for western style democracy. It is true that Afghan leadership leads a great deal to be desired but what of the Afghan people? Rebutting said commentators, they show up in massive numbers despite being threatened by violence. At one polling place a while back, radicals set off a bomb but the voters still stayed because as one man put it with a shrug, “it’s our duty to vote.”
So what is our excuse for our voter apathy? Mad at robocalls? Tired of negative ads? Turned off by volunteers knocking on the door? Too many mailers stuffed in your mailbox? Not wanting to get wet in the rain? Well, we need to grow up. We face serious issues under the Gold Dome in Atlanta and in our local communities. However, nothing has ever been fixed by people who sat on the sidelines and refused to participate.
As Americans, we pride ourselves on being an example to the world on the value of democracy. Maybe it’s time for us to learn a thing or two from abroad. Today, let’s follow the lesson taught by the Afghans and vote. Like the man said, “it’s our duty.”