Voter Apathy?  Princeton Found That the Elected Don’t Care What We Think Anyway

Voter Apathy? Princeton Found That the Elected Don’t Care What We Think Anyway

by Timothy Achan Gates, Covington Weekly Correspondent

Considering the importance of the issues in the October election, St. Tammany experienced a rather low voter turnout.  While media portrayed an “Anti-Incumbency” sentiment among voters, at the polls that sentiment was reserved for the Sheriff, who is now in a runoff with Slidell Police Chief Randy Smith. The incumbents in Parish Administration won by crushing margins.

Just How Much Of A Role Does Money Play? A good bit. For a brief comparison, Parish President Patricia Brister listed $250,000 in campaign funds.  Her closest challenger managed to garner 17% of the vote with a mere $500 declared.  If that candidate were able to access a quarter of a million, one could venture to guess the race would have been a lot tighter.  That’s not the way it’s supposed to work, though.  Candidates are supposed to be selected based on their merits, not their pocketbooks.

It Works The Same On The National Level.  In a new study by Princeton University, reviewing 20 years of data showed that public opinion has a near zero impact on U.S. Law.  Professors Martin Gilens of Princeton and Benjamin I. Page of Northwestern University state in their findings:  “The preferences of the average American appear to have only a miniscule, near-zero, statistically non-significant impact upon public policy.”

One Thing That Does Have Influence: Money  While the opinions of the working class have little to no effect on public policy, the economic elite and business lobbyists are influencing legislation to their benefit.  Gilens and Page found that in the last five years alone, the 200 most politically active companies spent 5.8 billion dollars in lobbying and campaign contributions.  In return, the same 200 companies received over 4.4 trillion dollars in taxpayer support.  That is a return of over 750 times the investment.  No wonder politicians spend so much of their time fund raising for the next election.
Explainer_prob3Ending Legalized Corruption.  The organization suggests that the solution is for locales to pass their own Anti-Corruption Laws.  The American Anti-Corruption Act is model legislation making it illegal to purchase political influence, and putting political power back in the hands of the people.   Goals of the act include stopping political bribery, ending secret money and giving every voter a voice.  With regard to voter apathy, a corrupt system is not an excuse to abstain from voting, but if voters had confidence in the system they are participating in, they would certainly be more likely to participate.

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