America doesn’t ask much of you, besides 30% of your income, give or take, and a begrudging tolerance for Ken Burns documentaries. Except for one big thing.
The one thing you’re supposed to do, the bare minimum for a person lucky enough to squeeze from a birth canal and into citizenship in one of the most wealthy and marshmallow-safe countries in the world, is vote. When you don’t do that, the people who are in charge don’t represent you, they represent the people who were motivated enough to vote. Those highly-motivated people are often crazy; ergo, the people they elect represent their crazy interests.
This is an undesirable outcome.
Last night, Kentucky elected a crazy man. His name is Matt Bevin, and he’s still in the Tea Party. Remember the Tea Party? It’s now in the Kentucky governor’s mansion.
Meanwhile, in Houston, voters rejected an anti-discrimination bill that would have made it illegal to prevent people from accessing a variety of services due to their race, gender identity, and sexual orientation. The ordinance’s most vocal opponents were able to paint it as a law that would allow men to enter women’s restrooms and show little girls their dicks. They were successful.
Pundits speculate that this may be an indicator that in 2016, voters will follow a similar pattern, electing whatever besuited man is yelling the loudest in the local bar (Donald Trump, or Ben Carson mumbling xenophobic missives too close to a microphone turned all the way up). While that is a compelling narrative if you were writing a children’s book about a Kentucky-and-Houston-based democracy, reality is that crazy people in Kentucky and Houston were crazy motivated to vote for crazy things that would represent their crazy interests. Kentucky has not voted blue in a Presidential election since 1996. Texas’s state bird is a goose that just got shot by an armed, uninsured child. This means fuck-all for the vote a year from now.
The preferred fake cable news narrative is entirely wrong, but it is correct in implying that even though off years don’t get all of the sexy attention of presidential elections, the people elected during them are still just as legitimately in power as the people elected when more than a third of the electorate shows up to vote. There are enough crazy people in those particular locales to put something nutty in the governor’s mansion, in the law books. There are enough apathetic people to allow this to happen in these two not-small places. If a similarly composed bloc of voters comes out in 2016 with nobody to counter them on a national scale, we’re truly fucked.
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Image via Getty.