What Does Our Poor Democracy Say About How People Feel About Themselves?
If democracy is a mirror of the people, what does consistently poor voter turnout in Houston, among other places, and restrictive term limits for elected officials reflect?
We often say people don’t vote because they’re not interested in politics or because they are busy. People say that candidates on the ballot offer no real options. I’m sure all these things are true to a degree.
I’ve wondered sometimes to what extent poor voter turnout also reflects a lack of confidence people have in their own judgment. Or to what extent it reflects the fact that people feel bad about the place they live.
Turning over control of who gets elected seems to indicate resignation over the future and even a measure of self-loathing. Would people who feel hopeful about the future or who feel good about themselves willingly allow others to determine how they’ll be governed?
Term limits are always a bad idea. In Houston, if you can imagine, City Council members are limited to three two-year terms. Why would voters limit their own options? Do voters feel they need to be protected from themselves?
Democracy is a synthesis of public and private. The views we hold about public issues are formed by our personal experience of the world. Our private thoughts are a result of the world we see around us.
When democracy seems to be falling short of its potential, we should look for reasons why in the mirror and, also, in the private thoughts and feelings of individuals.