I asked my student if she had voted.
“Nah,” she replied. “I don’t really care.”
I told her how important it was to participate in the democratic process.
“What does it matter,” she said. “My vote really doesn’t count.”
I couldn’t blame her. Although I had voted in college, I really couldn’t explain how I felt on any issue. I just voted Republican on my absentee ballot because my parents voted Republican. My journalism professor had given a quiz asking us to list who was in the Presidential Cabinet. I couldn’t name a single one, and neither could most of my classmates. Yes, we were journalism students.
Marianne Williamson had described this political apathy in her book, Healing the Soul of America. She wrote that the power of the government lies in its people. If some people choose to disengage, others who engage will assume more power.
But if the American people don’t take our government back, re-engaging a process we have chosen to ignore for a while, then we have no right to complain about those who would take it over in our absence.
She continued about how important it was for American citizens to reawaken. She saw this critical opening just after the impeachment of the president. She smelled the “dissent” in the air. She saw the nation coming apart, and it was time for the people to come together.
If some people choose to disengage, others who engage will assume more power.
Of course, the impeachment she described was not President Trump’s — it was President Clinton’s. She wrote this book before 9/11, the Great Recession, and the social media proliferation. Even though she had believed the end of the 20th Century would mark the beginning of social reform, it didn’t happen. People remained asleep.
Her thesis was that America needed to recover its soul. Even then, Williamson warned that a polarized society results in chaos. Where one party, group or identity might reign in one era, the other gathers its strength to usurp that power in the next era. However, when the nation joins as one unit, it can evolve and grow more efficiently. She called for an “awakening.”