This election cycle saw record turnout. “Voter turnout for the 2018 midterm elections reached new highs: in all, an estimated 113 million voters cast their ballots, making this year the first midterm to exceed 100 million votes,” Fortune reports. There is ample reason to hype the voter participation. However, these record highs are still vastly short of a fully engaged voter based. For the majority of eligible voters still did not vote, or by another perspective, cast a vote of silence.
“According to the United States Election Project, nearly 48% of eligible voters exercised their right in these midterms, compared to almost 39% in the 2014 election,” Fortune reports. “While the turnout still lags behind 2016’s presidential election—where 56% of eligible voters cast their ballots—it’s a high for the midterms.”
It is no secret that the times we live in are politically volatile. Members of both political parties, as well as the concerned centrists who see the political parties pulling further away from their interests, have significant reason to be motivated for a political cause. The political climate is hot with agitation and friction, and yet the majority of people still do not show up to a booth one day every two years.
This is the product of American democracy. Whether it be intended or not, the outcome of this political experiment is a silent majority. This 48% participation rate suggested above likely includes a range of voter fraud from the deceased, illegal aliens, and those whose names popped up in the system due to someone else's forgery. Even with record campaign spending of billions of dollars on these nationwide midterms, still less than half the people showed up to vote.
The American political will is duly portrayed by this one acknowledgement, the failure to vote. Whether it be due to disinterest, negligence or ignorance, silence is the largest political party in the nation. But silence does not just dwarf the Republican And Democrat parties, it often out-competes them altogether. So was the case this midterms, this first midterms ever to break 100 million votes cast.
If an empty ballot card actually counted towards something, then the country’s political representatives would be absentees. The Silent Party’s collective interest is to abstain from politics. If their will was taken into account, being the largest bloc of Americans, the entire country would then simply abstain from politics. No government, no taxes, no funding for social programs, no military, no laws and law enforcement, no public schools, no judge and jury.
But no, this is not a correct interpretation. Surely, the Silent Party would not wish for at least some of these things listed above to be stripped from their communities. However, democracy touts the will of the people, the will of the majority. Judging by their actions on voting day and the multitude of early voting days prior, their will is political abstention.
Whether or not this is consciously understood by members of the Silent Party or not, they are sending at least one message. They would prefer themselves to be withheld from the political process. Before these individuals are judged for failing in their civic duty, some of these actors may be honorable in their motives.
There are likely those who consciously remove themselves from politics due to an understanding of their own ignorance of what policies would result in good or bad things for the country. It is easy to be persuaded through political rhetoric from well practiced politicians, but not so easy to truly understand the widespread implications of political actions. Even the actors voicing some political platforms fail to grasp the full impact of their policies.
Within the Silent Party, it is difficult to make an argument that this is a mass of sleeping political geniuses. Those who have a respectable grasp of politics are likely doing much more than voting on voting day. This is not true in every case, but there is without a doubt a positive correlation between political knowledge and political participation. So, when it comes to judging the Silent Party, those who do not even vote once every two years, it is safe to assumes that in comparison to members of the Republican and Democrat Parties, the Silent Party members are collectively the least politically knowledgeable.
If the bar for having some degree of political knowledge is to have read at least one book on some area of policy, then not just the Silent Party, but all parties are likely filled with members lacking in the department of political knowledge. Reading one book, of course, does not make one an expert. However, it at least makes one vaguely informed on that particular subject. Some people dedicate their entire lives to studying political theory and its consequences. It is safe to say that the array of political knowledge is vast. The Silent Party surely has very few members on the right end of this bell curve.
Taking into account a high degree of confidence that the Silent Party is not overflowing with political scholars, is it such a bad thing that these individuals refrain from voting? Voting is respectfully put into the context of a civic responsibility. Within this context remains a truth perhaps not voiced often enough, which is the civic duty to vote responsibly. If the Silent Party cannot make a responsible vote, should their abstention not be commended with respect and admiration? Is there most effective voting contribution simply to not vote at all?
The Silent Party is not necessarily a problem to be fixed, but perhaps a reality to be understood. Politics is not for everyone. Actually, when one factors in levels of engagement, politics is not even for the majority.
The Silent Party is a movement that will never be heard, but it’s voice is surely loud. Americans in general are not politically engaged. Twisting their arm to get them engaged would not all of a sudden bring about new political brilliance. It would likely just dilute a minority of political intelligence with a growing mass of political ignorance.
The Silent Party is a collection of extremely valuable citizens that input their entire lives and efforts into a system that they leave in the hands of others. Their contribution is noble, and their strengths are exercised where they find themselves most effective. The Silent Party deserves the gratitude of those who are politically vocal, rather than the pressure to participate in an activity that they intuitively know is not for them.
Everyone has different strengths. It is in the interest of everyone that their fellow countrymen discover those strengths and are able to utilize them best in life. Some are best suited as physicists, some as engineers, some as teachers, some as soldiers, and all the other areas of expertise. To force people into a branch of activity that does not suit their character is a categorical error. Such an individual will be underutilized and likely displeased with their area of engagement. This, consequently, would also lower the caliber of their occupation with members who do not belong.
Encouraging individuals to pursue their interests and strengths necessarily comes with the understanding that there will be sectors of the American life that they refrain from participating in. This is one of our great strengths as a nation of individuals, the ability to specialize tasks.
This idea pertains to politics as it does to every other area of life. Politics is not for everyone. The Silent Party confirms that. As we are grateful that members of various occupations do not intrude on other areas of the workforce with their opinions laced with a lack of experience and knowledge, so too does the Silent Party deserve America’s gratitude when they refrain from political engagement.