By Brad Friedman on 11/16/2014, 8:19pm PT  

Bill Maher offered a very reasonable response to the ridiculously lazy argument that there's "no difference" between the two major parties or in who wins elections or that "voting doesn't matter." Part of his argument, however, includes a bit of tantrum thrown against those who don't vote at all...

I'd like to counter that latter part of his argument (his tantrum against those who didn't vote) with this point:

Americans did vote. They voted against the two major parties and against the system as a whole by not voting. You may not like that point, it may even make you angry, but it needs to be said. Neither party earned the vote of the majority of the American people. In fact, all of those who voted this year combined do not represent a majority of the number of registered, much less eligible, voters in this country.

Whatever might have convinced all of those voters to show up to the polls, neither party was able to do it. That is a "vote," as I see it. And it's a vote --- a landslide, in fact --- either in favor of the way things are going, or against a two party system that has failed.

Given that "right track/wrong track" polls so consistently show Americans believe the country is on the "wrong track," I'd say we just had a pretty clear landslide vote against a two party system that has failed. And those parties, once again, received a clear mandate, whether they choose to acknowledge it or not, from those "voters" who simply failed to show up and participate in the current electoral system.

(Note: By "failed to show up", I do not mean those who attempted to vote, but were kept from doing so, thanks to restrictions by a Republican Party which now actively works to keep certain voters from casting a vote at all.)

As much as I am tired of those lazy Americans who offer knee-jerk nonsense contending there is no difference between the two major parties (there most certainly is), I get equally sick of those --- in particular, elected officials, political parties and the pundits who support them --- blaming voters and even non-voters for their own misfortunes.

I'm the first person to say that I think people should vote, if only because when they don't, that's one less vote that bad guys need to steal. Moreover, by its very nature, its incredibly easy for politicians to simply ignore the type of mandate they receive from the majority of the electorate who fail to vote at all.

But I'm really tired of hearing politicians and pundits blame the electorate after elections. Even while I believe it's ill-considered, I understand why people don't vote. And I blame the people who have given them no good reason to vote because they have been given nothing to vote for.

Like it or not, part of being a politician is helping the electorate understand why they should vote for you or your party in the next election. If you haven't given them that reason, if you haven't made it really damned clear what it is they will get when and if they vote for you, then you have failed to do your job. Please stop blaming the electorate for your failures.

History has shown that when people have something to vote for they will show up. Fail to do that, and they won't. If you're a party that relies on people who want government to work for them, then you better make it crystal clear that you will make it work for them if they take the trouble to turn out for you. Otherwise, don't whine and lament and blame them when they decide that you aren't worth the effort of even showing up.

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UPDATE 11/18/2014: Huh. For all those irked at me for asserting the above, take a look at who just said the same thing...

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