Skip to main content

The Self-Defeating Left: How Non-Voting Liberals Gave Us Trump and the Tea Party

Your political revolution is useless if you stay home in off-year and midterm elections...
  • Author:
  • Updated:

In a perfect world, we shouldn't need to be "inspired" in order to vote. But no matter how zealous we are about political revolutions or sticking it to the establishment during presidential election years -- presidential election years like this one, for example -- our enthusiasm for the process only seems to be motivated by alleged rock stars careening toward the White House. We rarely if ever bother with non-presidential elections, and we suck because of it.

And by "we" and "our," I mean liberals.

There are eight election days in each four-year block. Liberals turn out to vote in one or maybe two of those elections. Maybe. For sure non-presidential elections invariably suffer from lower turnout, but core Democratic voters vote far less often than core Republican voters. To wit:

In the five presidential elections from 1992 through 2008, exit polls conducted for a consortium of media outlets found that voters under 30 cast, on average, 18 percent of the ballots; in the five midterms that immediately followed those elections, young people accounted for just 12 percent of the votes. Voters over 65, by contrast, increased their share of the vote from 15 percent to 19 percent.  

This isn't to suggest young people are solely to blame. This year, however, it's fair to ask the young people who support Bernie Sanders and the minorities who support Hillary Clinton, along with everyone else on the left who tend to stay home when there's no cult of personality to join, why are you conceding seven out of every eight elections to the GOP? 

I get that we exist in an era when facts and numbers are more or less irrelevant (to both sides). However, we know for certain that when turnout is low, Republicans win. Put another way, in seven out of every eight elections, chances are, Republicans will win more often than lose because liberals don't give a flying rip unless there's a political celebrity or two or three running for president.

Samantha Bee covered this issue Monday night and she placed the blame for Donald Trump and the Tea Party directly in the laps of liberals who refused to vote in the 2010 midterms. It was a brutal segment, culminating in a video of a rhino taking a humongous shit to illustrate how state lawmakers passed "every shitty idea from deep within their bowels." 

Bee is exactly fucking right, and the left ought to be ashamed of itself. We stayed home in 2010, and yet we wonder why the Republicans continue to be relevant in spite of their insanity and denial of objective reality.

While we collectively rend our garments over voter ID laws; while we wonder why-oh-why there are so many new laws restricting access to abortion; while we shake our fists at red state governors who refuse to expand Medicaid per Obamacare; while we wonder why our congressional districts look like Rorschach tests, drawn to favor the GOP; while we scream about Flint, knowing that Michigan Governor Rick Snyder ascended to office in 2010 -- the year we decided not to vote because of something to do with Ed Schultz; older conservatives are -- shocker! -- boarding their Rascal scooters and toddling off to the polls to elect more Tea Party bastards.

Yes, the left is really good at building massive Facebook followings, while blitzing online polls and petitions. (Online petitions, Bill Maher once said, are the least we can do without doing nothing.) Petitions are fine, but ballots are everything. The only problem is that activating and voting requires effort beyond our insulated digital lives, and putting forth the same level of effort we exert in presidential elections is, for whatever reason, too exhausting. So we don't bother. 

Say what you will about the GOP clown car, but at least those people vote. We don't. Knowing that, perhaps we shouldn't be so pious about bashing the GOP. Republicans, for all their flawed ideas, tend to actually participate in our representative democracy. Again, we don't. Sure, we have better ideas, but what good are they if we concede election after election to crazy people with terrible ideas?

We love our political revolutions when there's a kindly grandparent figure who panders to our bleeding hearts, but the actual hard work of winning shouldn't be confined to our beloved personality cults. I shudder to think what America would look like right now if the Democratic Party didn't figure out that liberals require political rock stars in order to win the White House.

And now, some liberals are threatening to stay home in November. Those liberals, be they the pro-Hillary PUMAs from 2008, or the pro-Bernie "Bern or Bust" people, are literally worse than Republicans. They believe that by not voting, even in presidential elections, they're punishing the rest of us. Sadly, they are. And not just liberals who do their civic duty. They're punishing American soldiers who will surely be killed and maimed by the tens of thousands under GOP leadership. They're punishing the working and middle class Americans whom I thought Bernie supporters were fighting for. They're hurting women of all walks of life who require safe and affordable access to reproductive healthcare. The list goes on and on. 

What the goodbye-cruel-world non-voters/third-party-voters get so completely wrong is that it's not just about them. Voting is macro. Voting is about the immediate needs of everyone, and those needs are just as at-risk in state and local off-year elections as they are during presidential elections. At the end of the day, if you think you're too busy to vote or, worse, if you think that not voting for Hillary or Bernie in the general will somehow represent a poke in the eye to whomever, you need to carefully remove your head from your ass.