Thoughts That Hurt To Think #003 – 49% of Americans

The last few months, a certain phrase has come to be used quite a bit. The phrase starts out as ‘Half of Americans…’ or ‘Forty-nine percent of Americans…’ and ends a variety of ways, most of them unflattering.

There’s no reason to address the childish accusations made by one side against the other in these endless examples, or by the other side against the one. That would take a lot more conversations about those misconceptions than we have room for here. The thing that needs to be addressed is that nearly everyone starting a sentence that way ends it with a complete loss of accuracy and its accompanying credibility. They don’t speak for half of the people in the United States, any more than they take the time to understand them. Instead, they discount a large portion of the population just by starting a sentence that way.

Let’s look at some actual numbers, and allow a little margin for error when we do. After all, simply landing somewhere in the ballpark is far better than pulling a huge number like forty-nine percent out of left field.

Roughly one third of all the people who are for some reason referred to as ‘Americans’ are not registered to vote. This doesn’t even consider the citizens that are not of legal voting age; with our country being so focused on not considering the opinions of children, this is another example of how agism is legally enforced in the United States. Although about 75 million of the country’s 350 million or so citizens are under eighteen, they are not afforded the same basic rights as the rest of us. But that’s another discussion entirely. This discussion will presume that children are not to be counted or considered, since that’s how the country treats them.

Sorry, kids. These prejudices were not my idea, but it is pretty rare to find adults that believe that children should also have the same basic human rights as they do. It’s another one of those thoughts that hurt to think. I’m on your side, but I’m one of the few.

So, let’s start over. Roughly one third of all legal adults in the United States have never shown any interest in having their vote counted. It used to be that you could get out of jury duty that way, but the powers that be changed that law awhile back. Now there is no reward for being a political atheist, except knowing that you aren’t spending time thinking about the system within the system’s limited and limiting context. For some people, that’s still reward enough. Maybe they’re disillusioned by the system or the people who run it, or maybe they just have other ways they prefer to spend their time; either way, about thirty-three percent of the country doesn’t care about these political contests enough to even register to weigh in.

Now, let’s talk about the rest of those legal adults.

A bunch of them are registered to vote, around twenty million of them. Yet half of those people saw no reason to weigh in on the last presidential election. Perhaps their disillusionment came after they had registered, or maybe they only care about local issues. It’s totally possible that they have no interest in voting for the new version of the prom king or queen once they’ve gotten out of high school.

Those folks that never registered probably didn’t have much interest in that, even in high school; but we’ve considered them already.

It turns out none of these statistics are new, nor have they changed much over recent years. If we go back far enough we find that only one or two percent of Americans voted in the first presidential election. It grew steadily for awhile after that, peaking considerably when the issues in people’s minds were giving the right to vote to folks that had been denied that right before.

Hey kids, maybe there’s hope for you after all! We’ll take the time to consider your position a little more, later.

Right now, it’s time to do a little math. Roughly, of course.

If one third of eligible voters are not registered, and only slightly less than half of registered voters bothered weighing in on the last election, and slightly less than half of them voted for the person we are now calling our president…it’s not really fair to start off any sentence with that annoying set of words we’re discussing unless you add some serious qualifiers.

The truth is, less than 17% of Americans voted for the person that got elected. About 2,864,974 more voted for the person that didn’t win, which is more common than one might think in our elections; and less than 1% voted for the other guy. The other 65% of eligible voters didn’t bother at all. The news told us that the numbers were much higher, since they spin it to look as though the public is far more interested than it actually is.

Some people are surely curious, what might happen if there was a third option on the ballot that accurately catered to the unrepresented majority. When we look back and discover that no presidential election in American history has ever been interesting enough to its citizens to get anywhere near half of them to vote, it puts things in a different perspective. It does give us a new way to end that sentence, of course.

49% of Americans have never turned out for a presidential election in the United States.

It’s always been less.

What if there was an option that lets us all live four years with no politicians, with no new laws being put in place and no new taxes being levied against people that are already deeply in debt for the education that didn’t get them the job they were wanting, and are several generations deep into mistrusting public servants with better salaries and health care than nearly everyone they claim to be serving? What if we automated the system, stopped paying them so much to make decisions without consulting us, and voted online on every issue at hand? How many people would vote to divorce the government, staying in the country they love while getting out of a lifelong abusive and marginalizing relationship?

I’m willing to bet it would be more than forty-nine percent.

We’ll lighten things up a bit next week, and discuss a subject that is fun in a number of ways. Those of us who like to drink sometimes find ourselves curious about how our favorite beverages are made, and I’m one of those people.

Did you know that all booze is brandy? I didn’t, until I had tried pretty much all of them.

We’ll be covering that, next week.

Thanks for reading!

All the best,

J.K. Norry
The Secret Society of Deeper Meaning
Twitter: @JayNorry

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