Much ink and bytes have been spilt and transmitted about the enthusiasm gap, the phenomenon during the 2010 mid-term elections where Democratic voters did not show up to the polls in the large numbers that they did during the 2008 election.
I wrote of this phenomenon in January of this year when wondering where the missing Democrats had gone in the Massachusetts special election that saw Republican Scott Brown take the Senate seat vacated after the death of Ted Kennedy.
My post in January ended with the thought that perhaps the Democrats did not show up because they were tired.
I would like to amend that hypothesis and postulate that it was not so much that the Democrats were tired, but that it was the Republicans were fired up and the Democrats were lukewarm about this year’s election.
Here’s why…and it all comes down to bumper stickers.
While driving to work, I have the opportunity to view bumper stickers that run the gamut of the wings from right to left and I have noticed an interesting quality in stickers from both sides of the ideological spectrum.
Here are a few samples of bumper stickers from the conservative, right-wing, religious point of view:
The theme that runs through the conservative bumper stickers is that of the “I”, “Me” and “Mine”:
I’ll keep my guns…
I’m taxed enough…
The theme that runs through the liberal bumper stickers is that of the “You”, “We”, and “Other”:
Save the other species
Unions brought you…
We should coexist with other faiths
I do not make these comparisons between philosophies as stated on bumper stickers to say one way is superior to the other. I am highlighting these differences in thoughts – the “I” versus the “We” – to show why Republicans came out in force a few days ago and Democrats had better things to do.
For right or wrong, conservatives felt threatened by President Obama, Speaker Pelosi, big government, or all three. Experience and common sense point to the fact that a person feels personally that their safety is at risk, that person will fight hard to negate the threat. Republicans, with a strong sense of the “I”, felt personally threatened and therefore went to the polls to negate the threat.
On the other side, when people feel that another group is threatened, they may go to the aid of the other, but that feeling of wanting to help is not as strong as if they themselves were personally threatened. Such was the case of missing Democrats who, with their strong sense of the “We”, may have felt like helping and going to the polls, but perhaps there was a good episode of Project Runway on that night.
Yes, I realize this post is a bit of a stretch – trying to tie bumper sticker philosophy with why people don’t vote – so I’d love to hear your reasons why Democrats took a pass at this year’s polls.