Letter: Flaws in political system deter voters

Lately, I’ve been spending a lot of time reading articles written by experts in their field that our much beloved democratic system is crumbling beneath our very feet. It appears as though somewhere between 35 percent to 40 percent of the voting-age population showed up to the polls on Nov. 4. I suspect a variety of explanations could be made as to why voter turnout has been low since the mid-19th century. But are the questions we should be asking and things we should be carefully considering being truthfully and thoroughly pursued?

The fact of the matter is that young people today and all those of voting age are simply detached, disinterested and foolish to throw away their say in the American political system. Do we limit our attention to the more pressing matters? The matters that hold our concern are our cell phones, our social media, our video games, our sports, our clothing, our laptops, our televisions, our makeup, our hair, our skin color, our body weight, our music, our social circles, our celebrities.

I believe our nation’s voting pool to be poisoned, and about this I must offer a more detailed explanation. As any governmental historians can hopefully corroborate, a democracy is more likely to succeed if its citizens have similar goals and generally agree with each other. We have been taught that this is not always the case. In government disagreement is healthy. This is only true if the disagreement is in regards to an issue that each party holds an interest in and believes should take place. When we are so staunch in our ways that we remove ourselves from the equation, we remove any chance of success we had hoped to achieve.

How do I apply this to our current situation? Why the nation’s voter turnout is so despairingly low? Our two-party system is failing. The gridlock we’ve experienced over the past few electoral cycles can be explained by the fact that our politicians and our people have grown so doggedly attached to the nature of our arguments that we cannot see that we are destroying whatever hope exists of achieving anything at all.

It is so much easier to bark at each other about the principles behind your argument than to discuss what could be done. There is no right answer to the vast majority of the questions that plague our Congress. To believe so would be to shut an ear to not only practicality but reason and logic itself. What can be done is compromise. Not in the form of a happy medium, which so often results in disaster due to bad planning, but compromise in the form of efficient and effective resolution with stops built in to check progress and allow for adaptation dependent upon results and circumstances. 

We need to make some decisions immediately, see what happens and then make some more decisions. And this process needs to happen repeatedly. Climate change, immigration reform, foreign policy, monetary and fiscal policy, regulation in all sectors of our society, growing inequalities, the nature of our social constructs, crime and other issues are things that will not simply fix themselves on their own. Issues will not wait in line to be solved. And yet, as a result of our failing political system, few if any meaningful decisions are being made. We may find ourselves in a catastrophe so deserving of its name that we may be unable to find a shovel big enough to dig ourselves out.

Why is voter turnout so dreadfully low? Because the nation’s voters have so little faith that our system can enact meaningful change. People react to meaningful change, and when the status quo has been to stand at a respectful distance away from each other, yell and hope for the best, what else could the voters truly expect to happen? Of course they don’t care who wins when they look at everything that hasn’t been achieved in the past few decades.    

It is not that young people find themselves disinterested in politics; they have come to the conclusion that the current system is not working and is not worth trying to save.