This election cycle is unusual to say the least. So let’s analyze it unusually.
Forget the parties with their delegates; the electoral college is a hangover from our racist beginning and counter to the principles of democracy. Plus, we inaccurately tend to think of the two parties as two halves of a whole when this is far from the reality.
Forget the eligible voters. The fact that different states have different rules for who can vote also goes against our democratic ideals and demonstrates another reality of our unequal systems of power and representation.
Let’s be radically simple in our take on democracy: One person, one vote. All equal.
Here are Iowa’s combined caucus results. Also compare the number of votes cast to the number of Iowans old enough to vote.
You can see that Sanders and Clinton together scored 2 1/2 times the support as did Trump, Cruz and Rubio combined. But 78% of Iowans didn’t participate at all.
Now here’s the same thing for New Hampshire.
Again, Sanders and Clinton combined earn 2 1/2 times the support as did Trump, Rubio and Cruz combined. But this time 82% of the adult population did not participate.
And in Nevada.
Trump, Cruz and Rubio all do better this time, earning 46% of the vote combined. Sanders and Clinton still lead in support though. But the percentage of population participating is even slimmer.
Let’s combine them all: these three state’s vote totals, compared to the total adult population in Iowa, New Hampshire and Nevada.
Sanders has won the most support overall in terms of votes cast; almost 3 times as much as Trump (one has to wonder why Trump gets all the publicity)! And again, the Democrats combined beat the Republicans combined 2 1/2 times over. But 86% of these three state’s voting age populations didn’t participate.
Maybe they couldn’t, because of the two party system. Maybe they couldn’t spend all day waiting around to be counted like I’ll have to do on March 5th if I want to participate in my state’s caucus. Maybe they don’t care. I have met such people; politics is just not something they want to think about. More likely they don’t think their vote matters, they think it’s all a sham. I have met many people who hold this opinion.
All I can say to that idea is that if your vote doesn’t matter, your lack of vote sure does. Take my home state of Kansas as an example. Maybe you’ve heard of our Governor, Sam Brownback, and the regressive policies of his administration. Here’s the support he earned in 2014.
So while Brownback earned 50% of the vote, he in fact only earned 21% of the people’s support. So thanks to 57% of people not participating in democracy, not exercising their hard fought and hard won right to vote, all Kansans have to live under the rule of what 1/5 of the population actually thinks are good ideas.
When people don’t vote, the result is minority rule. That doesn’t say much for the state of our democracy.