Whether you're a patriotic American who views our President's relationship with Vladimir Putin with more than a bit of alarm, or whether you're just a compassionate human being who is aghast at the sight of families being torn apart at the hands of your elected government, there's a lot in the news that simply makes you want to scream out in protest. For far too many of us, screaming is as far as we go. After all, what can we DO? What can any ordinary citizen do , apart from shaking one's fist at the sky in silent protest against the unfairness of it all or glaring angrily at the family pet?
Let me suggest something. It's not huge or earth-shattering or even especially consequential in and of itself. But it can effectuate change if enough of us do it. And it's voting! Yes, I know. Sounds like something out of an old-fashioned civics textbook or an editorial from your newspaper the day before an election. And you might be tempted to dismiss the idea out of hand. After all, what difference can YOUR vote make when arrayed against all those millions of votes out there? Well, let's dig into an election from our deep dark past to see what effect a few votes can make.
In 1982 Illinois had an election for governor. It pitted Senator Adlai Stevenson III against the incumbent, Big Jim Thompson. All the polls said Governor Thompson was a shoo-in. He wasn't just going to win, he was going to win BIG! But lo and behold, when all the votes were counted, Big Jim Thompson won by the grand total of 5,074 votes. To put this into perspective, there are 102 counties in the state of Illinois. If fifty more people per county had voted for Adlai Stevenson, the history of Illinois politics would have been entirely different.
Now I deliberately chose a relatively obscure election as my example. I could have chosen a much more obvious one, Bush vs. Gore in the 2000 Presidential election. Al Gore lost the state of Florida to George W. Bush by a mere 537 votes and thereby the Presidency. You can even look at the results of the 2016 Presidential election. Donald Trump took the states of Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania by a combined total of fewer than 100,000 votes. Flip the results of those three states and Hillary Clinton is our President today.
The point is, every vote counts. How many disgruntled Bernie Sanders voters stayed home on Election Day in those three states I mentioned? I don't know, it's really impossible to tell. But in an election that turned out to be as close as 2016's, might there have been enough Sanders voters out there to have made a significant difference? Undoubtedly!
The Mainstream Media is already playing up the differences between progressive and centrist Democrats, implying that a political chasm of epic proportions separates the two sides. Really? Let's look at it this way. Let's look at the Supreme Court. Had Hillary Clinton been elected President, Neil Gorsuch would NOT be a justice on the Supreme Court. Brett Kavanaugh would not have been given a nanosecond's consideration as our next Supreme Court justice. Upon confirmation of her second choice, Hillary Clinton would have cemented a six to three liberal majority for the Supreme Court that would have lasted for at least a generation. The implications? Citizens United would be a thing of the past. The enforcement provisions of the Civil Rights Act would be intact. Voter suppression laws and highly partisan gerrymandering would be subject to judicial review. All this would have been likely had enough Sanders supporters set aside their antipathy for Hillary Clinton and voted in the last election.
So the next time you're tempted to shout out to the sky or shake your fist defiantly in the air, go right ahead. Get that anger out of your system. But then remember to register to vote. And then on Election Day march out to your polling place to cast your vote and put all that anger and resentment to good use!
Filed under: Politics