OTTAWA – Canada’s dismal rates of voter turnout may be rooted in negative experiences with politicians and public servants, according to a new report.A Canadian thing? Hardly. But the report linked to above has a great title of its first chapter: Democracy's Great. It's The Politics I Hate.
I'm fairly certain you'd find the same result in the U.S.
There's long been a argument that voting is a ultimately an irrational act. According to the Downs Paradox, the cost of voting exceeds the benefits received. Costs come not in cash but in time spent keeping up, with making a decision, with getting to a polling place. Toss in the ugliness of partisan politics and there's little wonder many people not only tune out of the news but are also willing to skip voting altogether.
The study in question here is based on eight focus groups. The weakness of this methodology, of course, is a lack of generalizability. It's strength, though, lies in deep meaningful responses, a depth of knowledge you can't really get from surveys.
To sum up: people in the study were frustrated with the disconnect between the democracy they love and the politics they see.
Partisan hackery and a fragmented media marketplace are drawing down that reservoir of trust so vital in a democracy.
The reservoir, sorry to say, is running dry.
It's possible 2012 may break records, in the U.S., for lowest vote turnout in the modern age.