Election Day 2019 is a few days in the rear-view mirror. Since neighboring New Hampshire is the first in the nation primary, the local airwaves are already flooded with early presidential campaign ads.
Locally, we had a mix of incumbents and newcomers win elected office. A longtime Scouter friend of mine lost his City Council seat after nearly 30 years. A newcomer, and brother of another of my oldest friends in this City, won the Ward Concilor seat in my district. My longtime friend Mayor Jeanette McCarthy easily won re-election against another friend, former Councilor Diane LeBlanc. All politics IS local, after all.But take a look at the statistics.
(Scroll down in the story for poll results.)
In the last census, the population of Waltham was listed at 62,442. There are 34,423 registered voters in this city, or just about 55% of the city population.
11,743 persons in this city cast ballots. That's just 18% of the city's population deciding the leadership and direction for 62,000 people. But more disturbing, it's only 34 % of the registered voters in this city.
I'm actually struck by my district. I live in Ward 6, precinct 2, in what is the largest apartment complex in this city. There are 600 doors that can be knocked on here in a day. While I don't have statistics on how many voters live in the complex, I can see that a total of 1,080 ballots were cast across the entire ward. My friend won his seat with a mere 538 votes; less than the number of households in my neighborhood, nevermind the entire district.
So what's wrong? There is the apathy factor, and the feeling that you can't fight city hall, so what good does voting do anyway? I'm actually of the other opinion - I increasingly see my national votes as irrelevant. What is one ballot going to do to influence the Presidency, my Senator, or even my Representative? I've focused for years on the local.
As you can tell from my name-dropping earlier, I know most of the leaders in this city, in some cases personally. While I don't have any influence over whether or not we should negotiate with Kim Jong-Un, if there is something going wrong in the neighborhood, I can usually get something done rapidly. (Ask me about the sewer overflow a few years back - fixed in an hour after two phone calls.)
But I've had a theory for a few years now. It's the terminology. It's rubbed me the wrong way since the very first day they started it. In this Commonwealth at least, we no longer speak of "voting" or "elections". For years, it's been called "Commitment (insert year)
"Commitment" is a big word. The masses know it from their crime drama TV - you "Commit" a crime. If you're unstable, you're "Committed" to a mental institution or hospital. Fanatics and masterminds are "Committed" to their causes.
That's pretty heavy stuff. It doesn't lighten up any through the ol' Thesaurus. Dedication, Devotion, Allegiance, Loyalty....
No, I'm just casting a ballot for someone who might believe in a few things that I do. There are some exceptions where I would be "committed" to a candidate or cause, but for the sake of casting a ballot, that's really ham-fisted on behalf of the media.
Can't I just VOTE?