Power to the People

Power to the People

Nathan Stapleton

Power to the People

Jessica Schreindl

By now we’ve all heard it: “This election is historical,” “The people’s voice was heard,” “Democracy has been restored” – and so on. Barack Obama, in his radio address on Saturday, only furthered the rhetoric.

“On Tuesday, Americans stood in lines that stretched around schools and churches in numbers this nation has never seen,” he said.


CNN reported that a new study from American University’s Center for the Study of the American Electorate concludes that voter turnout in Tuesday’s election was the same in percentage terms as it was four years ago – or at most has risen by less than 1 percent. According to the study, Republican turnout declined by 1.3 percentage points to 28.7 percent, while Democratic turnout increased by 2.6 points from 28.7 percent in 2004 to 31.3 percent in 2008. Politico.com reports “… roughly the same portion of eligible voters cast ballots in 2008 as in 2004.”

Voter turnout in America has varied: from as low as 27 percent in 1824 to as high as 82 percent in 1876. The early 1900s and 1960s saw some of the highest voter turnout of the century. Tuesday, Nov. 4, 2008, came nowhere close to those numbers.

So why are we being sold a myth?

Perhaps we are to believe we have a voice in our government – that the politicians answer to us – not the other way around.

When you think of Barack Obama and his campaign, what is the first word that comes to mind? Change. It was a stroke of genius: Make people feel empowered. Make them feel as if they are in control of their future.

In his same radio address, after lying about voter turnout, Obama went on to say that voters “… came out and cast their ballot because they believed that in this country, our destiny is not written for us, but by us.”

Well said. We’ve become attached to “silly” words such freedom and democracy in America. Too bad they are not more than just words.

And then there was the obvious, stark contrast between our current president and the Democratic nominee. What change could be more radical than going form a tyrant such as George W. Bush to a messiah figure like Barrack Obama? Pure genius.

The truth is, close to half of the American people sat at home on Election Day. While there was an increase in African-American voters, many disillusioned Republicans stayed home – clinging to their God and guns.

The point is not to be discouraged by “voter apathy” or the political process, but to not to be deceived. The illusion of a free society permeates our culture. If this presidential “race” revealed one thing, it is this: when the media and politicians join forces they can create a powerful, touching image. Let’s not be moved by false advertising.