Wednesday, July 30, 2003

Three Cheers for Apathy!-This NYT Howard Dean puff piece has an interesting quote from "Dr. Dean" (yes, he's an M.D., but that makes him sound like Dr. Phil)
"The way to beat George Bush is not to be like him," he told a rally of 600 people overlooking the harbor in Portsmouth, N.H., on July 22. "The way to beat George Bush is to give the 50 percent of Americans who don't vote a reason to vote again."
That assumes that the people who don't vote are disgruntled leftists (I don't think many of them ever were gruntled) waiting for a real progressive to run. The non-voters may skew a bit to the left, but most of the non-voters are satisfied with the general direction of the country and don't find it worth their bother to go and vote. When you have two candidates pledged to minor tweakings of the existing system of government, many voters may feel that there may be more than a dime's worth of difference between the two, but don't feel lead to be an informed voter. It takes time to think through who you're going to vote for if you aren't a die-hard backer of one party or the other; people will spend that time only if they see a benefit for doing so. Perversely, low voter turnout is a sign that our system is doing well; there's relatively little at stake, so the marginal member of the electorate may well decide to watch a Friends rerun rather than go to the polls after dinner. However, if you present a candidate who is dramatically different from the typical candidate, you will boost turnout. There may be some disgusted socialists who now have a choice other than capitalists Tweedledumb and Tweedledumber. However, a Dean candidacy will bring out otherwise non-voting centrists and conservatives who, when looking at higher taxes and more moral decay, get their butts to the polling place. Also, there are quite a few 2000 Gore voters who have liked what they see in Bush and wish they had voted differently three years ago. I don't see the non-voting unwashed proletariat making the difference for Dean in 2004; it will be the non-voting Silent Majority, as well as Democratic-leaning pro-war moderates, that will come out to vote against Dean and have him be lucky to carry Vermont and DC.

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