The election that isn’t

I thought I heard somebody say there’s an election next week.

Pretty sure I heard that right. Something about mid-term Congressional elections. A bunch of governorships up for grabs. Things like that.

Of course, I could be wrong. I saw what looked like a political rally on the tube but the talking heads kept telling me it was a memorial service.

There may be political campaign spots on TV. I couldn’t say. Like most adult males, I channel surf during commercials.

While in Missouri the other day, I saw a bus with a sign that said: “Chuck Norman likes Jim Talent.” I know who Chuck Norman is, but who the hell is Jim Talent?

Yes, there are bunches of brightly-colored signs at every intersection I pass but they tend to get lost among the hand-lettered cardboard signs that promote weekend yard sales or ways to make money at home.

I seem to remember sending in an absentee ballot for something last month but I’ve been on the road so much lately the memory gets fuzzy. Maybe it’s a senior moment.

According to recent polls, fewer than one in four Americans will show up at the polls this Tuesday to decide which political party controls the U.S. Congress, who governs many of their states and what party or philosophy controls their city councils, state legislatures and county boards.

Don’t bother digging for a calculator. When less than 25 percent of those eligible to vote actually exercise their right to do so, it means less than 12 percent of eligible voters decide who runs things around here.

That aged document fashioned by a group of powdered-wigged men back in Philadelphia in 1776 declared this country to be a democracy, with decisions made by a majority of those qualified to vote. Of course, back then, they thought only white male landowners should have that right but that’s another story.

Government by majority. Nice theory. Too bad it doesn’t seem to work in real life.

What we have today, in the best of circumstances, is government by motivation, where the special interest group that does the best job of turning out its faithful determines winners of elections.

Organized labor spends more than $50 million of its members’ money each election cycle to turn out voters to do just one thing – elect Democrats who will give labor everything it wants.

Other special interest groups promoting abortion rights, gun control (or lack of gun control), tax cuts or whatever pour millions into congressional districts to elect or defeat a candidate based on their own narrow agendas. The so-called “campaign finance reform” scheduled to take effect after this election will limit some of this spending but the groups will find a loophole. They always do.

Yet while this motivated minority decides the future of the country, more than three quarters of voter-age Americans will stay home or go to work or be on the road or have some other excuse for not going to the polls.

Then, for the next couple of years, those same three quarters will bitch and moan when Congress wastes their tax money on pork barrel projects, saps the economy with stupid legislative decisions and puts politics over national interest.

Too bad. There’s an election next Tuesday. I know there has to be. I saw something about it somewhere. I think it was on the news, sandwiched between the latest DC sniper update and another story about Winona Ryder’s shoplifting trial.

But I could be wrong.