Friday, April 8, 2011

Voter Apathy and the American Psyche

When Contests Are Close
I've never been a teacher, even in the layman's sense. I'm just not good at teaching someone else what I know, mainly because I don't fully understand exactly how I know what I know either, and even when I do, I'm simply not capable of conveying that process to another. Consider that my brain is a stingy sponge only able to communicate with the outside world in code, or analogy, as is usually the case.

Today's analogy involves two diametric worlds that may be difficult to wed on the surface, as one is considered cerebral and the other emotional. Politics and entertainment don't usually inhabit the same stage unless you're at a Dixie Chix concert or a celebrity funeral. I propose a rare attempt at education that breaks that barrier.

The tenth season of American Idol aired moments before this writing, and tonight was the night of the week that one more cog left the wheel, one more contestant suffered the will of the Idol voters. Granted that the electorate for this show dwarfs that of the political world, it must be noted that the mindset of the voters are in the formative stage. Since there is no voting age limit for American Idol, it stands to reason that ten-year-old kids are developing a voting habit that may meet up with the technology available when they reach political voting age.

Regardless of the speculation of what may be possible a decade from now, the notion of apathy from over confidence is being nurtured in the process of shows like American Idol. It was in evidence tonight, as Pia - inarguably the best vocal talent in the competition by far - was voted off the show by the voting viewers. The ensuing collective shock was palpable as the pronouncement was made, and the aftermath was furious on reporting venues of all flavor.

It may be an exaggerated analogy, but I must compare the reaction of Pia's exit to the stunned populace of America upon learning of JFK's assassination. If nothing else it is the entertainment equivalent to an historic event that actually mattered. But it is the lesson that can be learned that we must take away from this. Apathy trumps genuine concern.

We saw it in 2000, when the networks called Florida for George W. Bush, and many of the panhandle voters headed to the polls veered towards home thinking it was all over. Even though they were in the next time zone for poll closings, by the time they heard that the state was still up for grabs, it was too late to trudge back out to vote, so they stayed home and digested their dinners and settled in to watch their favorite sitcoms.

We were then subjected to the ludicrous vaudeville of the 2000 election decision and all its glorious theatrics played out for weeks and weeks. Similarly, Idol voters all assumed that Pia was so safe, she didn't need their vote. And now she's free to sign with the agent or recording company of her choice. Pia will be just fine, and I pine not for her. I simply lament the psyche of the alleged adults in America of voting age, and truly fear the next generation of voters who have cut their teeth in the process from social networking shows and websites.

The moral here is simple; if it matters so much to you that you will spend more than a day complaining about the result, then make the time to cast your vote whether you believe it will affect the outcome or not.

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Edisto Joe said...

Voter apathy in 2012 could ruin the chance to be done with Obama. The recent battle in Wisconsin is only a taste of what's to come November 2012. Obama will rely heavily on the youth vote and union organizing to get out the vote, by hook or crook. Apathy in Republican and Independent ranks could spell doom for another four years.

As for Pia, your're right. She has already signed with an agent and recording company for an album. The voters clearly passed on the most talented, just as they passed on Sarah Palin. Palin went on to bigger and better things and so will Pia.

Atlanta Roofing said...

Though I hope Pia the best, I think that if she goes the pop route and does a Teenage Dream or grenade two songs she sang really well sort of song she can have some real success. Please if this does happen don't release a ballad.