Elections are the only events that I know of where politicians use marketing to try to get fewer people to buy what’s being sold.
In most elections in the US, fewer than half the population votes. This means that in most elections, not only doesn’t the winner get a majority, the winner wasn’t even chosen by a majority of the majority. Politicians make it even worse by allowing the continued use of arcane vote counting and by manipulating district boundaries with the creation of partisan districts that provide a political advantage. It’s a practice called gerrymandering, and it’s been going on since the creation of government.
Depressing voter turnout is an advantage for a selfish politician, meaning that it’s easier to get your opponent’s supporters to become disgusted enough to stay home than it is to encourage people to proactively vote for the candidate of their choice. The fact that it’s a one-shot event, that a bare majority is the goal, and that decreasing voter turnout is a valid strategy, all add up to make politics as disgusting as it is to most voters today. Isn’t it ironic that a majority only has to consist of enough people that actually care enough to show up and vote? It’s not an accident we’re disgusted.
Politicians spend billions of dollars to create the belief that voting is something that’s better to avoid. They teach us that it’s not a responsibility we want to take, and they make it feel like an irritating hassle. They don’t invest in making it a chance to build a better community, government and country. In short, it’s more like giving blood and less like going to a Super Bowl party.
It’s also depressing that too often, incumbents are liked by a minority, respected by an even smaller group and particularly bad at the job. If many of the registered voters actually showed up and voted, each of those incumbents would lose their job in a heartbeat.
The solution is simple. Show up and vote. Every time. It will make a difference. Politicians won’t stop manipulating the majority of voters and the voting process until we do.