Once again it is an election year. Parties are trying to rally their bases. Activists are making phone calls and knocking on doors. E-mail is filling with requests for donations. This cycle repeats itself every two years. Presidential election years are campaigns on steroids. Off year elections are sad little affairs where only the most dedicated and determined voters bother to show up. Why is this?
If you happen to be in an urban area there is probably no noticeable difference. Candidates are buying television ads and making frequent stops at local businesses and attending any and all public events where they may possibly been seen. The candidates know where to find their voters and they know how to reach out in effective ways to urban voters. Urban voters are more organized. Their local political parties are more organized and active. They are accustomed to knocking on doors and making phone calls. They meet in casual settings and they socialize with like minded people. There are large public gatherings that are ideal for candidates to walk around and share hands with the masses.
In rural areas things are much different. Candidates ignore rural areas and leave them to continue to vote the way they always have. If the county is a Republican county, the Democratic candidate feels comfortable in ignoring it and vice versa. They feel it is a waste of time and energy, and if that is their attitude it likely is. The voters in rural areas don’t meet the candidates and they never get to shake their hands. Poor, rural voters almost never get the opportunity to be face to face with a candidate at the state or national level. The candidate has no need to meet these people. They cannot make a donation. They are not reliable voters. They feel totally disconnected from the entire process. They ARE totally disconnected from the process. That is why they are unreliable as voters. They have no skin in the game. They feel there will be no difference for them in their daily lives no matter who wins or loses. The real losers are the candidates.
They are missing the opportunity to connect on a personal level with a demographic they don’t interact with on a regular basis. They are too far removed from the voters they expect to elect them. They go to the state capitol or congress and make frequent visit to their district to meet with people who are the most likely to give them a donation. They have town halls in the middle of the day when the vast majority of people how could vote for them are at work. Those in attendance are retirees and those who are fortunate enough to be self employed. They don’t make any public announcements of when they will be having a meeting. They have even resorted to charging for attendance and only meeting with private groups like Chambers of Commerce and civic organizations. The bottom line is they don’t want to meet their constituents. They only want to meet their donors. Is there any wonder why the average voter does not feel engaged? They are taking their cues from the candidates.