No Thank You Democracy

No Thank You Democracy: The politics of non participation.


Public group discussion at c3: institute

When we talk about American democracy we usually ignore over half the people who make up this country. We have gotten used to the seemingly irreconcilable differences between conservatives and liberals, but beyond that conflict there is another vast constituency that makes up the majority of our population: the non-voters. These are the people who either cannot by law participate because they are too young, immigrants or incarcerated and the people who simply do not participate because of circumstance, disinterest or disgust. What happens to our understanding of the American democratic situation if we shift our focus to include how our democracy looks and functions for these people? What perspective on our political moment can be gained from considering how our system of governance feels to the people who cannot, or choose not to, have a say in it?

What does it mean to our democracy that the majority of people who live here do not take part in voting and yet we continue to believe that our government derives its just powers from the consent of those who it governs? How much power do we feel we have to shape the conditions under which we live whether we vote or not? In what ways does the American democratic spirit manifest in people outside of formal political actions?