On a regular basis since November 2016, journalists have been parachuting into Trump country to see if Trump supporters still like the guy. Of course, they do. That’s not surprising.
But few stories have concentrated on who’s needed to elect people to office these days: people who don’t bother voting — the people who believe their lives are so disconnected from public policy, that the effort isn’t worth their time.
So the Washington Post parachuted in this week to a county with the lowest turnout in a state that regularly has among the lowest turnouts, in a country that has among the lowest rates of voting — Montgomery County, Tenn.
In the last big election, only 42 percent of eligible voters bothered; they had something else to do, apparently.
“I just don’t feel I can change politics,” Austin Bailey, a 25-year-old libertarian, says. “Or, if I could help change it, I’d just be voting for someone whose solutions I don’t agree with.”
Austin’s not going to vote in next month’s election either.
“For every one thing I like about a politician, there are 10 things I don’t like. Take Trump, I like his tax cuts but then he’s jacking up the deficit . . . it’s trading off one evil for another. . . . I’ll just stay at home and not have my blood pressure raised.”
Austin is not alone.
Tennessee has its share of voter suppression laws, but few of those interviewed cited them as a reason for staying home.
Their general theme? “Why bother?”
“I just think that it’s a waste of my time,” said Leo Meeks, 39.
Just another stupid citizen? No. Leo has a college degree and everything. In political science.
“Because whoever’s going to get into office is not going to be influenced based on what my goals are or what my needs are or what the public’s needs,” he said. “It’s going to be driven by capitalism, by big companies. . . . Money controls.”
But it’s also true that counties with the lowest rates of voting tend to be less educated and more impoverished.
Still, we’ve struggled to come up with a compelling answer to the question: “Why bother?”
“I don’t know who to believe or who not to believe when it comes to the president and senators and Washington and this and that. I just put it all in God’s hands,” said Mike Rittenberry, an ex-felon who has never explored having his voting rights restored, the Post says. “I know God is really the one who’s running this country. I really believe God has placed President Trump there for a reason.”
God, apparently, hates democracy.
“I’m one of those people who believes if you don’t vote, you can’t criticize, because you don’t put your voice in,” said a 27-year-old who usually votes Republican. “But now I’m done with it. This time I don’t want to put my voice in.”
The American Experiment has failed. Doomed by Americans.