Anti-Incumbency: Power in Small Numbers

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Third parties and independent candidates for federal office, as well as half of the eligible voters in this country, utterly fail to recognize the power they hold in the palms of their hands. The power of just a small number of them to radically alter American politics as well as substantially, and significantly, reform American government is right there in front of them. Yet, so far, they have refused to see it and seize it for their own. For some they even see it, and recoil from it. Is power in politics such a frightening thing? Perhaps, but not for long.

In 2004, slightly more than 200 million Americans were eligible to vote. Pres. Bush won just 30.8 percent of that number with slightly more than 62 million votes. Kerry lost with slightly more than 59 million votes. 78 million eligible voters did not vote, more than the number of votes cast for either Bush or Kerry. (Washington Post vote figures here.) While no research available analyzes how many of that 78 million who did not vote saw no value in either Bush or Kerry as candidates, it is I think, safe to assume that at least half had no faith in either Kerry or Bush. There has been a fair amount of anecdotal evidence that even among those who voted for Bush or Kerry, a percentage of them were voting for the lesser of two evils.

What is interesting, and of great import in these numbers is the proposition that if just 3.5 million of those eligible voters who didn't vote, had shown up to vote; not for Kerry, not for Bush, but against the incumbent who they believed wasn't worth voting for, President Kerry would now be acting as a check and balance against the excesses of a Republican Congress. The Republican Congress would have acted as a check and balance against a Democratic President, and we the people, would have been the better off. Does anyone doubt that President Kerry would have used his veto pen to halt tax cuts for the wealthy? Or, that he would have vetoed the Medicare Rx Drug bill with its donut hole in coverage that will deplete the small savings of millions of elderly. Or, that he would have vetoed this same bill simply on the basis that it precluded competitive bidding amongst pharmaceutical companies which would have saved tax payers 100's of millions, if not billions of dollars over the life of the program?

I voted for Nader. So, I am not postulating that Kerry was a better man than Bush. But, it is clear to me given all that has transpired under a one party dominated government, that a Republican Congress and a Democratic President would have been healthier for America's fiscal policy and less prone to the excesses and abuses of power we have witnessed. National debt would not now be on track to hit 11 Trillion dollars before the end of this decade. The Plame case, the immensely flawed Medicare Rx drug bill, and multi-million dollar unnecessary bridges in Alaska would never have been part of our history. I have to wonder too, if our engagement in Iraq would not be further along toward completion as well.

The point here though is, 3.5 million of 78 million non voters held the potential power to change the results of the 2004 election and to alter the course America has taken under a G.W. Bush Presidency. The potential power of this anti-incumbent sentiment in America is nothing short of awesome! It is possible that of those 78 million who did not vote, more than half didn't vote precisely because of their anti-incumbent sentiment toward both Democratic and Republican Party elected officials. They do not recognize the immense power their vote could have wielded to change the course of history in this country.

What is even more striking is the potential power of anti-incumbent sentiment at the level of Congressional races. Congressional races conducted in non-presidential election years see a dramatically smaller voter turnout. This fact dictates that the potential power of anti-incumbent voters is greater by far in these Congressional election years. Let's look at the 2002 Senate races for example. Leinsdorf.com reports: "Over 80 million ballots (80,008,764) were cast by about 162,613,047 registered voters, for a turnout of 49.20%." ... "Only four seats changed hands: Arkansas, which was won by the Democrats; and Georgia, Missouri and Minnesota which were won by Republicans. In the end, the Republicans gained the two seats needed to take control of the Senate." ... "The Republican candidates for Senate received 21,308,936 votes (49.5191%) to the Democratic candidates' 19,893,921 (46.2308%), out of the 43,031,757 votes cast for Senate. Independent candidates got 1,838,009 votes (4.2713%), but won no seats."

Therefore, of the 82 million Americans who were eligible but did not vote in 2002, had only 2 million of them, disgusted with both parties, shown up to vote out the incumbent, Republicans would never have taken control of the Senate. And again, with a Democratic Senate and Republican House of Representatives checking and balancing each other, it is fair to speculate that our fiscal, Iraq, and safety net problems may have taken a decidedly different turn for the better for all Americans. They had the power to improve our condition and change our history for the better. Two million out of 82 million had that power and failed to recognize it was there for the taking.

The potential power of the anti-incumbent vote cannot be understated. Despite the power outlined in my previous article, Creating a Void in D.C., the psychological tactics and conspiracy of the two major parties have thus far prevented very small numbers of non-voters from seizing the power in their grasp to revolutionize American politics and election outcomes. There are many organizations like Common Cause which have set up 501(c)3 non-profit organizations to get Americans registered and to the polls. But, where they fail, is in conveying to non-voters the absolutely huge difference their vote can make. Non-voters who believe, as vast numbers do, that incumbents in Congress of both parties are the problem have the greatest potential power. Small numbers of these eligible to vote anti-incumbent minded Americans can swing elections as they please for President and Congress if only they were organized around their anti-incumbent sentiment.

There is no question in my mind that the Republican and Democratic Parties both conspire to hold back this group of eligible voters: these who potentially could change the course of American politics for the better. Their political machines are designed to convince Americans that the vast majority of Americans are either Democrat or Republican and no others need show up to vote. These Republocrats oppose moving voting to the weekends, which would encourage greater eligible voter participation. They oppose voting over the course of 2 or more days which would result in vastly fewer congestions of persons and end waiting in long lines for hours to vote. They have no desire to lower the entrance bars for third parties and independent candidates to gain access to ballots, for surely such candidates would draw significantly more anti-incumbent voters. This is a conspiracy ladies and gentleman. It is a conspiracy to psychologically disenfranchise all eligible voters not inclined to vote for the two major parties. And it has been immensely successful.

I have spoken with some Green Party officials over the last few weeks about the power of alignment which, is potentially theirs. If Greens, Libertarians, and the now split factions of the Reform Party were to align in a common purpose to move their voters toward anti-incumbency at the polls, they would create a power-brokering constituency which Democratic and Republican legislators eventually could not ignore. For their unified anti-incumbency effort would in fact, begin to sway otherwise predictable races for Dem's. and Rep's., negate Republocrats gerrymandering of districts to preserve incumbency, and force the two major parties to lower the entrance bars for third party candidates. This would be a win-win situation too! Democrats and Republicans as well would benefit after the fact, since, as soon as they lowered those ballot access hurdles, Greens, Libertarians, and Reformers would lose their unity at the polls and run against each other again.

However, only some of the Green folks I spoke with get it. I have yet to contact other third party officials but it is on my agenda for the coming weeks. The idea of creating a coalition with their third party rivals and independents should not be so abhorrent to them, that they insist on cutting off their nose to spite their face. The Republocrat conspiracy to divide and conquer through the promotion of voter factions and barriers to voter unification, have been very successful when it comes to third parties. But that need no longer be the case with the growing anti-incumbent sentiment in America. Third party officials must realize, accept, and get passed the fact that they have been little more than pawns in the Republocrat game. They will never achieve significance in American politics until they unite with a common purpose. And if they do, what a shot in the arm it will be for America's freedom and diversity of choice in its exercise of democracy.

The power to reform American politics and government, making vast improvements on what we now experience, is there for the taking. So what are you going to do about it? Are you going to join and donate to Common Cause's Vote for America Education Fund's effort to register and move new voters to the polls? Are you going to join and donate to Vote Out Incumbents for Democracy's effort to re-train Congress to attend to the nation's needs instead of lobbyist's, campaign donor's, and special interest's? Are you going to take the pledge to personally move 3 family or friends to the polls in 2006 to vote anti-incumbent? Or, are you going to let all this potential power to reform American politics and government go to waste and allow the conspiracy to flourish?

Those who wish to comment, "great article", and then go away to do nothing different need not bother. Such flattery will be meaningless. And those who would argue 1/3 of the eligible voters should continue to run the lives of the other 2/3 and their children to follow them, will not deter the growing anti-incumbent voice of frustrated and disappointed Americans like myself. You can choose to lead this nation toward its greatest potential or remain an obstacle to it, to be gone around.

America cannot afford to maintain the status quo. The status quo is the foe of America's bright future and potential. It is time to reinvent our democracy, and Republicans and Democrats will fight that change tooth and nail. Let them. For all their organization, the fact remains that the outcome of future elections rests in the hands of very small numbers of previous non-voters, and as the numbers showed in 2004, they are coming out. Our participation will grow despite the Republocrat's psychological warfare against democracy, and against government of, by, and for the majority of the American people, present and future.

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This page contains a single entry by David R. Remer published on November 27, 2005 6:59 AM.

VOIDer's Are On To Something was the previous entry in this blog.

WSJ Poll: Confidence in Gov't. Drops Further is the next entry in this blog.

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