Writing an article that you know is going to be published the day after a potentially game-changing election is a challenge. But even without knowing the outcome, there are a couple of things about this election that will certainly be true: Conservatives will be angry that they haven't ushered in the new Ayn Rand utopia, and liberals will be denied their dream of bringing Swedish Social Democracy to America.
The fact that neither understands what any of this means is beside the point; there will be abundant commentary today and everyone will be angry about something. I, on the other hand, having the benefit of foresight, already know whom to blame. If you didn't vote yesterday, it's all your fault.
The refrain I kept hearing, especially among young people, was that they just weren't inspired to participate this year. As though a politician's inability to motivate somehow gave them permission to sit this one out. Participation is a privilege and an obligation, not some dinner party you skip if you suspect it won't be entertaining, or there won't be an open bar.
We have gotten too comfortable with asking for inspiration and too lazy to do the work. It is up to us to force the politicians to engage, to be empowered to move this country forward and not the other way around.
When less than half of us vote, it means that the distorted messages of hate and fear permeate the airwaves. The polarization of the parties was fed by a constant diet of half-truth and misinformation that did nothing but divide this country, funded by concealed entities with unclear agendas.
When money has to stir only 22% of the country to swing an election, it's too easy to market to our most base emotions regardless of what end of the spectrum you call home. What we end up with is political rants and polarizing ideological arguments and no real discussions or solutions.
And because you didn't vote, they got away with it.
When elections are about getting more of your party's people to vote than the other party's people, it isn't democracy anymore; it's merely a game, and we are all being played. Participation changes the rules and forces the message to play to all ears. Politicians will be different, the arguments will be different, and the solutions will be just that — solutions.
As much as we might be tempted to blame the Koch Brothers or George Soros, Fox News or MSNBC, the Nation or the Wall Street Journal, they are products of our own bad behavior.
So, if Grandma lands on the street because her privatized Social Security account dried up the stock market crash of 2024 or ends up in front of a death panel manned by a bunch of Maoist liberals, it's because ideological fringe groups took over our country while you were all watching TMZ and "Dancing with the Stars."
So if this country goes to hell in a hand basket, it's not the fault of the liberals or conservatives who voted yesterday. It's the fault of those of you who didn't.
MICHAEL TEAHAN lives in the Adams Hill area of Glendale with a clear view of the Verdugo Mountains so he can keep an eye on things. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun