Voting is a democratic responsibility for every eligible citizen of any sovereign state. It is the process through which citizens are often presented with an opportunity to elect their preferred candidates to take the vacant leadership positions. Different countries have different electoral calendars determining the time which their political leaders in office. The United States conducts its general elections every four years. At the end of this period, a number of political aspirants contest for several positions on the political arena one of which is the post of the president of the United States of America. Although voting is regarded as a constitutional right of every citizen who would have attained the voting age of 18 year and above, no government in the world can pressurize citizens to turn out in large numbers to vote for their preferred candidates. Voting is hitherto a personal choice and an individual secret. With respect to these provisions, over the years, it has been observed that the majority of the U.S. citizens actually never participate in the electoral process as it is observed in other countries. This essay explores why only few eligible voters participate in elections in the US.
The first probable reason as to why only a few registered voters get interested in voting for their political leaders in the U.S. is having very little expectations in the government. Following the economic stability of the country, many citizens never bother who is in what leadership position but rather what they do to perpetuate their own lives. The United States is rather successful in terms of economic stability (Zissis & Lekkas, 2015). Many of its amenities and the infrastructures are quite advanced and well maintained by institutions that are in charge. Furthermore, the majority of the citizens are literate and have very stable jobs or businesses. Following this situation, many people find no appropriate reasons to participate in voting because according to them, there is noting that the government may do to change their lives. In fact, among the few citizens who get interested in the voting process, there are the youths who are still unemployed or pursuing their studies. These have very much ambitions of getting jobs and therefore feel that the government should do much to enable them to realize their expectations in life. Just like in most developing countries, people who vote overwhelmingly are those who always feel that the incumbent government may not have performed satisfactorily in meeting their demands. Usually, such people are always in crisis due to unemployment, feeble infrastructure, poor social amenities, inequitable distribution of resources, and high levels of illiteracy among other factors. The United States is very unique because all these factors are non-existent. It is, therefore, difficult for many citizens to find a credible reason why he or she should take part in elections.
Besides that, people in the U.S. may also be failing to register or rather participate in their electoral activities due to the past experiences. The United States has a very long and intricate political history than any other country on the globe. Their independence from the colonial power dates back to 1776 A.D, which is exactly 239 years of being a sovereign state. During this time, the country went through a lot of political upheavals before it gained stability (Alvarez & Grofman, 2014). In fact the incumbent government is the 47th government since gaining independence. Following this history, people have seen what their governments have been doing in relation to their initial promises before entering the office (Alvarez & Grofman, 2014). More often than not, every contestant of a political position would device mechanisms of galvanizing his or her supporters to vote overwhelmingly in their favor due to certain promises that would be their main reference points during their campaigns. However, usually, after the same fellows gain power, citizens hardly see any of those promises being kept. Some of the leaders would become highly preoccupied with their own interests first embezzling public funds, perpetuating tribalism/ racism/nepotism and alike, consolidating power and perhaps devising ways of clinching to it for as long as he or she wishes. It is probable that Americans witnessed a number of such characters among their leaders in the past over two hundred years of sovereignty. This is the reason as to why the majority of them may not bother to vote because from time immemorial governments have not been effective at all. Every time the political term comes to an end, citizens are lefts more disappointed than when before the elections. Whenever this becomes a trend in any country, many citizens become repugnant towards politics with time.
Another plausible cause of scanty participation in political process by many U.S. citizens is the fact that most Americans have actually reached self-actualization. This is a state in one’s life where one has attained nearly everything that he or she may have aspired to have. Such people rarely care who is in power because knowing this cannot change their lifestyles (Datta, 2014). It is observed that most Americans who have attained this status of self-actualization are rarely concerned with politics. In most cases, people who care about the government in power are those who still think that their government should improve their lives and/or restructure the current institutions, distribute fiscal resources equally among them, and so on. This is characteristic of many citizens in the third world countries. The reason is that third world countries are still way below the requisite standards of living as compared to the U.S.; at the same time, their systems are quite inferior. Therefore, in most cases, people have high expectations for the incoming government hoping that it would successfully deal with the number of issues that pertain to their lives (Zissis & Lekkas, 2015). Because of this need, the same underprivileged people must come to exercise their democratic rights by voting for their preferred candidates in respective slots and thus make a difference from the past regime. Usually, these circumstances compel people to take part in the political processes with desperation and hope for better life ahead courtesy of the political leaders. Because the U.S. outgrew such feeble needs a long time ago, most of them hardly get concerned about the choice of leaders.
In the same breath, most citizens of the U.S. are too much preoccupied with their own jobs. The unemployment rate is very low such that it nearly impossible to come across any idlers. As compared to third world countries where many people turn up to vote in elections, politicians normally target the people who are less occupied because they can afford time to listen to their manifestoes. Idle minds also engage in wishful thinking and can easily imagine that what politicians tell them is actually practical (Alvarez & Grofman, 2014). As opposed to this situation, the United States citizens are usually busy strategizing for their own lives in terms of education, farming, industrialization, and career development among others. For that reasons, only very few can find time to listen to the speeches of politicians. The same happens during the electioneering time; these very people find it hard to squeeze time to queue up to vote for their preferred candidates. It becomes even more difficult to make informed choices because only a few could have understood the manifestoes of the same politicians. In addition, some citizens work and live far away from their polling stations. One of the requirements in voting requires that one cats the vote only in the station where he or she would he registered as a voter (Bishop, 2014). Since it is usually difficult for many people to meet this requirement during the time of elections, it follows that the majority are left out from voting. Sometimes, what may contribute to this are also the restrictions at their places of work. The nature of certain professions and occupations cannot compromise the working schedules simply to allow their workers to take part in a national event like election. Doing that may result into innumerable losses which can still be detrimental to the national economy. Therefore, many of the workers may never be allowed to forfeit work in the name of participating in general elections.
The final reason why few eligible U.S. citizens do actually vote is the lack of political influence in all the systems of the nation. The United States is popularly known for having very functional systems most of which are independent from the external influence including the political leaders. This makes it a very unique nation compared with other countries where politicians use all means to even intimidate the public and private institutions to vote in their favor. Because the US is deficient of that, many people never care who is elected and what their capacity is. The manner in which the US departments function does not cause any worry even if the country experiences a political standoff. Unlike the US, many countries still have a big problem when it comes to elections (Alvarez & Grofman, 2014).
Nearly all systems are very much affected by the elections and their aftermath in case there may have been flaws in the process of elections. The federal government’s powers are much separated from those of the state governments. As such, the Constitution categorically stipulates specific roles and responsibilities of the federal government as well as the roles and duties of the state governments. The roles are distinctly classified under enumerated powers and reserved powers. Enumerated powers are assigned specifically under the mandate of the federal government whereas reserved powers are dedicated to the state governments only (Bishop, 2014). Nonetheless, there are other powers and duties that are to be executed concurrently. These are referred to as concurrent powers, which are jointly performed comprising very clear roles that states would perform as well as those of the federal government. The creation of cooperative federalism became a solution to many convolutions that had earlier been caused due to the duplication of roles and therefore barred any form of interference and manipulations by the federal government. As such, people hardly feel political tensions in the country because of such separations of power and responsibilities.
Taking part in elections is a democratic right of all eligible citizens of any given country. The majority of the U.S. citizens have for long circumvented this right mainly due to the aforementioned reasons and partly because of the belief that there is nothing wrong even if most of them do not participate in elections. Nonetheless, the citizens must realize that the failure to participate in general elections may contribute to the choice of bad leaders. As the saying goes, ‘Most bad leaders are usually elected by majority of the citizens who do not turn out to vote’. Leadership of any given level affects citizens in a number of aspects. Although their influence may not necessarily be felt instantly, such leaders affect the country’s history and subsequently the citizens’ lives. That is why their titles permanently remain in the books of history for eternity.