"What is called "apathy" is, I believe, a feeling of helplessness on the part of the ordinary citizen, a feeling of impotence in the face of enormous power. It's not that people are apathetic; they do care about what is going on, but don't know what to do about it, so they do nothing, and appear to be indifferent." --Howard Zinn
In my years in the trenches of political volunteering, I've spent a great deal of time going door to door, and making phone calls to strangers, on behalf of several candidates that sought to do some positive works in the world. Before November of last year, one of the most common responses I'd hear from people - and frankly, one of the most frustrating! - was:
"I don't care about politics."
Granted, in the past year, I don't hear that response nearly as often as I used to in prior years! But I wonder: is it because the average person does now care about politics, since the consequences of political apathy are now so clear, or is it that the average person sees so many around them suddenly caring about politics that apathy seems no longer on trend?
I believe it's the former. I've seen many signs since I started out on this path that point to a level of engagement this area has never seen. It's my conviction that more people care about the process of democracy in this country today than did fourteen months ago. But for those that still - secretly or publicly - feel that they don't care about politics, let me assure you of one thing:
Politics cares very much about YOU.
Those in power care very much if you aren't paying attention - in fact they prefer it that way. They care very much if you only care about one, emotionally-charged subject that has no impact on your everyday lives - it makes you very easy to distract. And they know, and they especially care, if you're not voting at all. Here's why: if you're not voting, your opinion has no weight in their calculations. They're watching you very closely, and breathing a sigh of relief when you don't show up.
In 2016 in District 92, 61,497 voters showed up to make their voices heard - a number that broke all previous records for our area. In the previous three presidential-year elections, there were 60,110 (2012), 61,098 (2008) and 57,571 (2004). In midterm years, like 2018, our district's average votes cast for the past three years have averaged around 34,000. There are currently an estimated 120,000 citizens of voting age living in the district. This means that in an average midterm election year, the candidate is chosen by less than a third of the people that could choose. The other two thirds of you, politics cares about you. And they very much want you to continue as you've been!
Maybe you don't care about politics, but you do care about your children's education, your safety on our streets, your ability to get a job (or keep one), or clean water and air. All of these things are directly impacted by your state legislature. Presidential elections make a big splash and a lot of noise in the media, but their impact on your everyday lives is markedly less than the impact of midterm elections.
Maybe you feel like your vote is too small to make a difference. Did you know: in a district in Western Dallas County last year, a House race was decided by 64 out of 47,000 votes!
Or maybe you feel that it's too big for you to take on. I can understand that - but that's only true of JUST YOU. It's not true of all of us together. All of us together can change the world.
So let's surprise them this year. Let's show them how much this electorate cares.