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U. S. Election Day

Blog

U. S. Election Day

Grand CanyonDear friends of Perch,

As you might have heard, the U.S. is holding a presidential election. In 2016, voter turnout in the presidential election was 55.4 percent. In other words: U.S. President Donald Trump got elected because 26.3 percent of the electorate voted for him. (This picture doesn’t get any prettier if Hillary had prevailed in the Electoral College: her vote-share was just 26.5 percent of eligible voters.) The highest turnout for a presidential election in the last six elections was 2008 – a whopping 63.7 percent.

It wasn’t always this way – based on the best data we have, voter turnout started diminishing after the Civil War and hasn’t eclipsed 70 percent since 1900 when William McKinley defeated William Jennings Bryan. (We have no idea why – next time we have U.S. historian Dr. Lindsay Chervinsky back on our podcast, we’ll have to remember to ask her.) McKinley was assassinated a year later, and Teddy Roosevelt assumed the White House and kicked off the Progressive Era. But that is a story for another time. It’s also important to remember that low turnout isn’t just a presidential phenomenon, which is wild considering local elected officials have far more influence over daily lives than nefarious machinations in Washington.

Forget the red/blue divide. That’s a useless shorthand and overstates the differences between us. The truth is half of our country doesn’t vote. The U.S. suffers primarily from an apathy divide. U.S. democracy isn’t working right now because the People aren’t actually participating in their own democracy and the factions that Hamilton and Madison were so afraid of are calling the shots. The elected representatives of American citizens only represent half the people – not because of fascism, communism, or any other sinister -ism – but because only half the people pick them. As long as that remains the case, there is going to be gridlock in Washington, and large numbers of people are going to feel like their government doesn’t represent them. Because it doesn’t.

So, to that end, we’ve made Voting Day an official holiday at Perch Perspectives. We’re a small, less-than-year-old company, so it’s not like what we do is going to echo in eternity, but change starts small – the steady build-up of individual decisions, micro-moments that eventually become larger forces. That’s one of the maxims behind all of our analyses. There are of course some things we cannot control, like hurricanes or pandemics. But most of what happens in the world is eminently malleable. Broad geopolitical and economic forces don’t act on us – they are merely the sum of us, of our collective individual choices and feelings. “The fault, dear Brutus, is not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Back to our regularly scheduled programming on Friday, but in the meantime – take care, shower the people you love with love, and remember to vote. We’ll catch you on the flip side.

xoxo,

Your Perch fam