Mightier Than The Pen

Making The World A Bitter Place

18-Year-Old Still Thinks Her Vote Matters

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democracyBrookline, Massachusetts (AP) – Recent high-school graduate Emily Rosenthal can’t wait to cast her vote in the next elections, unaware that her choice will be drowned in a sea of other ballots by the misinformed, the ignorant, and the malignant.

Rosenthal, who began her studies at Boston University several weeks ago, eagerly anticipates having her say in who gets elected to municipal positions this year, including two judges, a village alderman, and school district officials. She also might get to vote in a special election to replace a scandal-plagued Congressman if he ends up resigning, but that remains unlikely, which is just as well, because her vote would never count for much in a sea of mass media manipulation.

“I registered to vote the day I turned eighteen,” gushed the naïve college freshman, recounting her first act, however futile, of civic duty. “Now I can’t wait to participate in the democratic system! It’s so exciting!” said the sadly optimistic teenager, oblivious of the fact that most voters will fall prey to populist, superficial appeals to base emotions, rendering her selections moot.

Rosenthal’s wide-eyed electoral innocence is hardly unique, notes sociologist Stephanie Facepalm. “Ms. Rosenthal in many ways typifies the privileged adolescent of today, having been exposed only to a seventh-grade-level understanding of how government works. In reality, we learn as we get older that nothing we do at the polling booth matters, as hordes of less-educated, easily manipulated proles constitute the bulk of the electorate.”

“It’s not specifically that the countless dupes in every jurisdiction are necessarily swayed to vote for or against a particular candidate,” Facepalm continued, “although that can and does happen. It’s just as likely that moneyed interests will influence media to convince myriads of would-be voters that voting is best left to the elite.”

Thus, explained Facepalm, Rosenthal and her ilk, no matter how idealistic and informed, pose no match for the dumbed-down masses that far outnumber them, while the moneyed interests work to dissuade the remaining cohorts of non-idiots to stay home on Election Day. The Rosenthals, therefore, stand no chance of exercising a vote that has any impact whatsoever.

The most likely scenario, says political theorist Charles Lindblom, is that Emily and her similarly misguided peers will either be co-opted by the interests that currently exert control over ostensibly open, democratic processes, or lose interest in participating in those processes as the pointlessness of engagement in them becomes more and more evident.

A third possibility, though more distant, is that the Emily will double down on her denial, and persist in believing that further participation in elections is the only thing that can make the system healthy again.

“There are a few nuts in every generation, and if Emily turns out to be one of them, she will become what they all do: interesting, entertaining, and perhaps even powerful, to a small degree on a local scale, but ultimately of marginal importance,” said Lindblom.


Written by Thag

October 9, 2013 at 3:11 pm

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