Perspectives: A Super Bowl cure for political apathy

OPINION –We’ve just seen the excitement and passion that typically accompanies a major concert or sporting event. Now imagine people becoming that engaged in things that actually matter.

Why is it so easy to devote time and energy to supporting our favorite performers or teams, but so hard to participate in our own governance?

A growing societal preference for short-term gratification has displaced the long-term value of active participation in ruling ourselves.

After generations of abundance, we’ve become spoiled, complacent, and apathetic. The next stop on this historical cycle is a type of bondage where the vast majority of us will be little more than serfs of whatever state rules us.

Voting is not enough to turn the tide in our favor.

It’s no secret that voter turnout has been declining for some time. During the 1980s, Utah was among the top 10 states in voter participation. In the past 6 years, it has fallen to the bottom 5. Even the backers of the Count My Vote initiative cite low voter involvement as a pretext for their efforts.

We do see an increase in manufactured hype whenever an election rolls around. But for the most part, the nonvoters outnumber the voters.

In some ways, it’s understandable that this apathy toward citizenship and participating in our governance would have set in. The amount of time and energy required is high. Having a real depth of understanding about complex issues requires that we do our homework.

Even those who would step up to run for office have to face an unpleasant fact; at the heart of most politics is the premise of violence.

No matter how we may camouflage it in legalistic language or patriotic terms, politics is the mechanism that allows government to coercively take money from people against their will. It is the means of forcing others to do our bidding.

Principled individuals approach political office with a degree of apprehension and a willingness to set aside their own desires for their term of office. But opportunists and power seekers thrill at the prospect of exercising dominion over others.

This is why principled leadership is essential to keep government limited and acting as a servant rather than a master of the people. Unfortunately, the promise of power is an irresistible attractant to the unprincipled and the corrupt. To them, politics spells control.

They know that one of the most effective methods of establishing totalitarian control over a society is to politicize everything.

We sometimes forget that our lives consist of many associations that are above the realm of politics. Family, business, community, media, academia, and church are prime examples. When we see these institutions becoming politicized, it’s an indicator that the power seekers are in full expansionist mode.

Breaking out of the societal apathy that feeds their power requires action.

Some may choose to withdraw their consent by refusing to participate in politics at any level. Joseph Sobran described abstaining from voting as a point of pride and honor rather than a dereliction of duty.

Regarding the corrupted state, he wrote: “It can force us to pay taxes, to support its wars, to observe its myriad petty rules, but it can’t (yet) force us to vote.”

Sobran’s admonition to stop voting makes more sense at the federal or state level than it does on a local level. This is because participation in our neighborhood caucuses remains a viable means of influencing our governance. But the corrupting influence of big money and lobbying increases exponentially the further we move up the political hierarchy.

Refusing to legitimize a corrupted system is only a partial escape. We must also break free intellectually.

We can choose to ignore the lapdog media who serve as government stenographers rather than actual journalists. This doesn’t mean sticking our heads in the sand; it means that we stop giving credibility to the political idolatry and theatrics that epitomize mainstream news.

This frees us to improve our understanding of the world on our own terms and not according to someone else’s agenda.

Becoming informed is easier than ever, once we’ve honed our abilities to think critically and independently. This doesn’t require specialized credentials. It means turning off the TV and making time daily to deeply study the issues we wish to understand.

How well we comprehend what we study is more important than the number of pages we read. In this sense, information is power.

When we choose to free our minds, our lives will naturally follow. Better still, our ability to influence others out of their apathy is magnified.

Political solutions can get us fired up for a party, a policy, or a candidate, but they cannot break us out of societal bondage. Understanding sound principles and actively living them without compromise is the only way to accomplish that.

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Bryan Hyde is a news commentator and co-host of the Perspectives talk show on Fox News 1450 AM 93.1 FM. The opinions stated in this article are his and not representative of St. George News.

Email: bryanh@stgnews.com

Twitter: @youcancallmebry

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

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5 Comments

  • Dan Lester February 3, 2014 at 10:19 am

    My answer is easy: Why vote when your vote makes no difference? No matter which side of the line I’m on, things are pre-decided, especially in Utah. So I don’t waste my time.

  • Doofy February 3, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Part of the problem in Utah: An institution that claims to be a religion that DEMANDS unquestioning obedience to authority and encourages ANYTHING BUT free thinking known as the LDS CHURCH CORPORATION. Why think when we have done the thinking for you?

  • utah_1 February 4, 2014 at 7:45 am

    Voter turnout can be effected by the age of the voters, strength of one party over another, or the percentage of move-ins to the state. CMV and those that they quote, have assumed the lower turnout has been due to the threshold required to avoid a primary, (fewer primaries) but have ignored the other factors listed as even a possibility. Compare Utah to other states with a dominate political party and our voter turnout looks normal. If it was the number of primaries that was the reason, why did we have such a low turnout in 2013 with the City races? That had nothing to do with the caucus/convention system.

    The political royalty sponsors of Count My Vote loved the current system when the turnout to the neighborhood caucus elections meetings (GOP) was about 25,000, but when it exceeded 50,000 and 100,000, they no longer want that system because they no longer have the power. They don’t tell you that the same delegates, proposed to be elected by closer to 10,000 attendees will still pick nominees such as the replacement for Spencer Cox., or Derek Brown.

  • utah_1 February 4, 2014 at 7:47 am

    This proposed “Count My Vote” law will cost taxpayers millions, $1 Million the first year and almost that every 2 years, with about 1/2 of the unfunded mandate being picked up by the less populous counties, the ones that the same proposed law will cause to be flyover places where the candidates and elected officials won’t come anymore.

    When Utah tried a direct primary in 1937 to 1947, it came with a run off primary, so the majority would elect the nominee. When the voting turn out and the cost drove the public and the media to reject that system – a compromise, caucus/convention and run off primary was created. We have that today. Count My Vote not only removes the nominating for general elections using delegates, it removes the run off primary system we have and nominees will no longer be selected out of a 2 person race.

    They claim more people will be able to vote. A large percentage of voters will not affiliate to vote in the GOP primary election and those same people will not be able to vote in a “GOP” direct primary under Count My Vote. They will get to pay more as Count My Vote makes sure the parties will not be picking up the tab they currently do, it will be the taxpayers, unaffiliated or not.

  • utah_1 February 4, 2014 at 7:48 am

    The “bill” Count My Vote, or proposed law is flawed, terribly so. Even some of the strongest supporters admit the legislature will have to fix it if this mess passes.

    We tell public officials to kill these kind of errors in committee, not skip the public hearing, not read the bill and vote to send it to the floor of the legislature to decide if it should pass or not.

    That is exactly what Count My Vote is telling people to do. Sign it, unread, and hope everyone realizes next fall it doesn’t deliver. They could have amended it but chose not to and by law, can no longer amend the “bill”.

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