Today America votes in the midterm elections. During our roadtrip from NY to LA we've been bombarded with the most bizarre campaign ads we've ever seen. They slur the opposition, avoid talking about the candidate's real policies & the estimated cost of this media circus? Around $3.5 billion. Considering the number of domestic issues the US is struggling with (homelessness, poverty, a failing education system, crime) it's ludicrous.
But the hardest thing for us to wrap our heads around is the number of Americans who (passionately) tell us they want change but don't vote. In the 2010 midterm elections only 36.9% of eligible people voted. That's disturbing considering how much power rests in the hands of the senate, congress & state / territorial governors.
Some typical excuses we've heard:
- "I hate lining up" Umm....
- "They make it hard to find a polling place" Have you tried looking?
- "I don't have time to vote" Fair enough if you're working 3 jobs. Not if you're running late for American Idol.
- "Voter discrimination stops people from voting!" Yes it does. But 60% of the population? Don't think so. It's up to those who can vote to work on changing things for everyone else.
- "All the candidates are just as bad as each other" Choosing the lesser of 2 evils is still a step in the right direction, and much better than no step at all.
- "Nothing ever changes so what's the point?" Political change takes time. Generations even. So best to get started, right?
Still, voting is only meaningful if you make an informed decision. Most Americans we've met know mainstream media companies are aligned with either the Republican Party or Democrats. Yet they still rely on them as their main source of voting information. A little research goes a long way.