Bernie Sanders Explained Why Voters Aren’t Voting Ten Years Ago

It seems like hardly a month passes without yet another international or national study or survey revealing how America, as the “shining light” of democracy and unlimited economic possibilities, is revealed as lagging the rest of the civilized world in any and every possible category. If America is not at the bottom of the list for dependable infrastructure, access to healthcare, or the number of people in the middle class, it is a world leader in the number of children living in dire poverty, most gun-related homicides, most incarcerations, and a humiliatingly ignorant religious and racist population.

Now another survey reveals that as the one-time exemplar of democracy, America is near the very bottom of industrialized nations with a truly pathetic voter turnout record. Of all the recent sad reports about America, this one can be laid at the feet of Republicans and their moneyed supporters who, with valuable assistance from a conservative Supreme Court, work tirelessly and spend unlimited amounts of cash to prevent Americans from participating in the electoral process.

Before perusing the one-time ” world’s leading democracy” and its truly pathetic voter turnout record, it is worth looking back at comments from Senator Bernie Sanders that he recorded for posterity nearly ten years ago in the 2006 documentary “American Blackout.” In the documentary, the filmmakers recounted the then-astonishing voter suppression tactics being employed to prevent a large percentage of the population from participating in America’s storied representative democracy. Even though it has been nearly ten years since the film’s release, if then-Representative Bernie Sanders knew what the Koch brothers intended in funding outright voter suppression efforts, he certainly would have called them and their legislative arm the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) out by name. Instead, Sanders talked about voter apathy and cited “the people who control politics” as the media, large corporations, and the wealthy people as those most invested in keeping Americans from participating in the election process.

Bernie Sanders explained that the rich and corporations do not want all Americans to vote. He said, “The truth of the matter is that the media, large corporations, the people who control politically our country today do not want you to participate. That’s only bad for them. They want a low turnout of primarily upper middle class people, they want big money to dominate the political process. Their nightmare is that young people, lower income people, working people jump into the political process. They do not want that.” As everyone now understands in retrospect, corporations and the wealthy Koch-types’ worst nightmare came true in 2008 when young people, people of color, working and low income people did jump into the political process electing Democrats to control both houses of Congress and the White House that elicited a ferocious response from the Koch brothers as archetypes of the corporate and wealthy elite Sanders described.

Since now-Senator Sanders’ short comment on voting has been manifest a hundred fold, everything he said ten years ago has morphed into more than the wealthy elite just “not wanting people to participate” in the voting process or “wanting big money to dominate the political process.” In fact, after the 2008 election of Barack Obama with larger numbers of Americans heading to the polls, including more young people, more lower income people (code for people of color), and working people, the wealthy and their corporations went to the Supreme Court to win the right to inject unlimited amounts of money in politics, and paid ALEC to write and pass outright voter restriction and suppression laws in Republican controlled states across the nation; particularly in the racist former-Confederate states. So, exactly what was the result of the Koch’s investment in ALEC and the Supreme Court?

According to a new Pew survey released recently, among all developed nations on Earth, America lagged every nation in voter turnout than three; Japan, Chile, and Switzerland. Americans voter turnout was less than all of the other 37 member nations in the Organization for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). Pew measured voter turnout by comparing the number of votes cast as a percentage of eligible voting-age population. According to that measure, America landing 31st among the 34 countries in the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development whose member nations are mostly highly developed democratic states.

America’s turnout in 2012 was 53% and the three highest ranking nations were Belgium (87%), Turkey (86%), and Sweden (83%). America’s low voter turnout has predictable consequences as the last midterm election confirms; lower voter turnout always benefits Republicans because not surprisingly, the people that do not turn out to vote generally have “more progressive views.”

This does not necessarily mean that registered Democratic voters are not showing up, although in the last midterm election that appeared to be the case, it just means that Americans who generally support progressive agendas like fair wages, income equality, worker protections, social programs, and domestic spending on infrastructure and education have been systematically shut out of the electoral process. Why? Because as Bernie Sanders said in 2006; it is a nightmare for the wealthy and corporations if those people turn out and vote because they dependably vote for Democrats.

Republicans have made no secret they prefer smaller voter turnouts and it goes back to 1991 when Mitch McConnell said that not only is he “not particularly disturbed by lower voter turnout,” he thought it was “healthy if less people participated in the political process.” Recently, more Republicans have openly commented that they think any effort to get more Americans to participate in the voting process is “shocking and underhanded.” In Republican states voter ID laws, restrictions on voter registration efforts, fewer polling places, and outright voter suppression laws have contributed to the low voter turnouts.

Senator Bernie Sanders is no prophet by any means, but his remarks nearly ten years ago about corporations and the rich not wanting all Americans to vote were not only accurate; they were grossly understated as the results of the Pew poll certainly revealed. Of all the surveys and research results portraying America as a second-rate nation have borne out over the past few years, this recent survey is particularly humiliating because this country is alleged to be the world’s leading democracy; a distinction  Republicans and the Kochs have spent six years and no small amount of corporate cash flushing down the oligarch’s toilet.

20 Replies to “Bernie Sanders Explained Why Voters Aren’t Voting Ten Years Ago”

  1. America lagged every nation in voter turnout than three; Japan, Chile, and Switzerland.
    And what does those countries have in common unlike the US?

    They have few minorities that the ruling class have exploited so when everyone is the same you more or less agree on the direction of the country.

    Now Chile is special. Maybe the wounds of the police state of Pinochet is still in their heads and they may think if I vote for the wrong party I might just disappear.

    Update: I made a mistake and it should be Pinochet instead of Allende.

  2. The article brought out some good points about low voter turn out, but there’s one thing I must say. Progressives need to start looking more big picture instead of focusing on one particular issue. For example,low voter turnout in 2010 resulted in the house turning over to the Republicans because many on the left didn’t vote because they didn’t get universal health care.So now everything progressives care about is being obstructed.

  3. Better yet give everyone the day off with full pay. The elderly, disabled, or out of work folks get a check in the mail on proof of voting. Then we would see 90-plus percent turnout and shit would get real; either Republicans would change their anti- people tune or vanish in one election cycle.

  4. Hail Eris!

    Er, you mean Pinochet? Salvador Allende was the democratically-elected socialist president, and Augusto Pinochet was his CIA replacement…

    When a monkey nibbles on a penis, it’s funny in any language.

  5. I’m a senior, and I vote in every election. And I will vote for Bernie Sanders as President.

    But I noticed that my students do NOT vote–a whole class in the community college where I teach, to my disappointment, did not vote in the last election.

    We need to show students–and working class citizens–WHY IT IS IN
    THEIR BEST INTEREST to vote for Bernie. LET’S GO AFTER the T-Party vote. Many of them are populists who–post Ronald Reagan–have turned hard right.

  6. There is the divide between us progressives who wanted bank reform versus the universal healthcare group! And yes, there is a racial divide!

  7. The “one important issue to me” idea is exactly what is wrong on BOTH sides. The right either hears “They taking my Guns”, “They taking My Religion”, and the left is just as bad with “Healthcare”, “Banking”, and so on. Why do people pick ONE ISSUE to judge their candidate?! I think we must take it ALL IN and decide who or what party BEST represents me. I have ALWAYS considered myself as “Independent”. I agree with some things on a conservative level and some on a “Liberal”,[if you must]. I say, all the time, America has 2 speeds, Wide Open or Dead Stop. There seems to be NO MIDDLE OF THE ROAD anymore. it’s either give everyone that wants it welfare, or give NO ONE any type of assistance. It’s either take all guns or let EVERYONE have guns. Give everyone food stamps or give no one food stamps, so on and so on. WE MUST find middle ground. In my humble opinion, the EXTREME on both sides are what is tearing this country apart. HOW ABOUT JUST A LITTLE COMMON SENSE????!!!!! Just a thought.

  8. “My fear, however, is that no matter what happens in Congress in the next day or two, serious and long-lasting damage already has been done to our country by the right-wing extremists of the Tea Party.”

    – Bernie Sanders

  9. Old Hippy, I hear you. As long as I can remember it has been US or THEM. And it comes down to such a radical divide across ideas that it divides families, old friends, co-workers, and neighbors.

    There is a store near me and they have great stuff that I need and it is convenient but the owner always has right wing radio on in her shop. And when I asked about it she made it clear she buys every word of it.

    Before I walked out I told her how shameful those Palin’s are in their hummer limo drunken assulting knock down drag out police fight brawl… and how delighted I was that married Chelsea just had Charlotte with her original life long partner parents. You know, real American Values type people.

    Her head was spinning when I walked out without purchasing the things I wanted.

  10. The last comment should be under old hippie not above that comment.

    Obama got out the vote. He inspired people, young people to vote. It is up to the next candidate to include young people in the discussion and give them incentives for voting, for their future… just like my generation was motivated to defeat Nixon because he was killing us in Nam.

  11. There can be no middle ground with the American Taliban. Last month we remembered the OKC bombing by a right wing terrorist who hated the government. When you listen to republicans today other than murdering people please tell me what’s the difference in the rhetoric?

    Democrats have compromise our principles to find the middle and the only thing that came out of it is hurting the very people of this country. For example, President Clinton just said he made a mistake with criminal justice when he sign the laws that made this country have the highest incarceration rates in the world just to appease the right.

    President Obama in the ACA which was based on republican ideas is vilified by the right and what came of it? Over 50 votes for appeal, millions in red states cant get it and now with a case before SCOTUS which everyone who has read it said it has no standing could take away insurance for millions .

    Make no mistake, we are at war with the theocratic right and until we who are sane realize it we and the country will lose

  12. RJJB Good idea but I will do you one better. Workers get a slip of paper from their employer to have validated at the voting place that they actually voted. If the paper is returned validated, the employee gets the day off WITH pay. If the paper is not returned or is returned NOT validated, the employee gets the day off WITHOUT pay.
    Of course the way around that is fewer voting places in traditional democrat areas which would require long lines which would discourage people from waiting to vote; especially if the weather is bad and the line is outside.
    But then the way around that is to do elections like the census. Mail a voting booklet to everyone and everyone VOTE via absentee ballot.

  13. The theocratic Right isn’t the problem, in my opinion. The elitists and their corporations are. They control our media on all levels. They control what’s seen on cable. They control our radio airwaves. They control the political narrative, and ChristoFascists are nothing but useful tools.

    Religion is regarded by the common people as true, by the wise as false, and by the rulers as useful.” – Lucius Annaeus Seneca, 5 BC – 65 AD

  14. I was one of the many who organized in bus loads to go to Washington and yell so he’d hear us and waved our signs so he’d see us. I lived it. I still say if I ever go to California I will go to his grave to spit on it.

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