The Commonwealth Iconoclast

A site dedicated to covering issues relevant to the Commonwealth of Virginia, and nation at large, plus other interesting things too, as I see fit...

Monday, November 05, 2007




Short of getting mugged on the way to the voting polls it is kind of hard to think of a really good reason why not to vote in the November 6th general election (tomorrow).

Yet, the recent news report in the Richmond Times Dispatch predicts that only 1.5 million of Virginia’s 4.4 million registered voters will show up at the polls to exercise their right to vote.

That is only 34 percent or ONE IN THREE eligible voters.

It seems that the best political minds have figured out that there are a number of “reasons”… none of which are good… why people don’t bother to vote including lack of sufficient knowledge to make a meaningful choice, the sense that one vote won’t make any difference, and the general distaste for the nasty aspects of politics. Other reasons that come to mind might include laziness, indifference, and being “without a clue” as to what is going on in the world.

Perhaps in support of the notion that one vote may not make any difference, the article goes on to explain the power of incumbency that here in Virginia produces a 95 percent success rate for incumbent office holders. This power seems to be the result of favorable voter district configurations (sometimes known in the past as gerrymandering) and the relative ease by which incumbents win the campaign finance battle.

In part this explains why here in Virginia we see large number of incumbents running unopposed for re-election to many different important offices, election after election. The result is that voters really have no choice on election-day for these unopposed seats. The Virginia General Assembly is an embarrassing example of this problem.

One has to wonder if the American democratic way has not indeed degenerated into becoming the "best government that money can buy" but not necessarily the government that we need!

Is this really a good thing? Probably not…

But still, why do Americans take their precious right to vote for granted? People all around the world are fighting and dying to get the tiniest of toe-holds for a free democracy. Yet millions of Americans and Virginians just view election-day as another excuse to take off from work.

Why not vote? If you can’t find a candidate to vote for, vote anyway. Vote for the underdog. Vote for a write-in candidate. But vote.

There is no need for every voter to devote endless hours scouring the news, studying the issues and questioning every candidate for every office. Just take a little interest in the people around you and what is going on in your community.

Ask a few questions. It is not that difficult to see better and worse choices on election-day. Those choices do make a difference…

Please vote on November 6th.