Democracy is dying

Confirming an observation perhaps first made in this space several years ago, Connecticut Secretary of the State Denise Merrill last week told WTIC-AM1080 morning show hosts Ray Dunaway and Joe D'Ambrosio that a third of the eligible adults in Connecticut and throughout the country don't bother registering to vote.

So when it was announced that 76 percent of the state's voters participated in the last presidential election, this really meant that only about half the eligible adult population − the population 18 and older − participated.

The calculation of voter participation in the last election for governor, 56 percent, meant that only 38 percent of the eligible population voted, with 62 percent not participating.

The calculation of voter participation in last year's municipal elections, 30 percent, meant that only 20 percent of those eligible voted and 80 percent stayed home.

The trend of voter participation long has been down. Far more people voted in Connecticut's municipal elections 50 years ago than in last year's election though the state's population now is far larger.

What does this indifference say about the future of the state and the country? It says that half the population couldn't care less about the country, nearly two-thirds couldn't care less about the state, and more than three-quarters couldn't care less about their city or town.

Other basic demographic measures may help explain this indifference. Half Connecticut's high school seniors never master high school English and two-thirds never master high school math but, because of social promotion, are graduated anyway. About 40 percent of children in the state and the country are born into households without a father and thus are put on the fast track to poverty.

This is social disintegration, as most people no longer have any appreciation for democracy, liberty, and the sacrifices made for them by past generations. Most people today seem to think that their comfort is the natural order of things, not something achieved and maintained by civic engagement.

As civic engagement collapses, politics and government increasingly are left to special interests whose main objective is plunder.

How can this trend be reversed? It starts with restoring the parents that so many children no longer have and with the schools, which fail to instill patriotism and responsibility and, indeed, fail even to educate much.

Social disintegration is more serious than every other issue facing the country and the state but it's not even on government's agenda.

This disintegration makes it almost impossible for politicians to be responsible or even relevant.

Where is the candidate with the courage to tell huge numbers of his constituents that their having children outside marriage imposes a huge handicap on their kids and society? Where is the candidate with the courage to tell his constituents that social promotion makes the diplomas of their children meaningless and that parents and children alike must work harder for education? 

Where are the voters who would even listen to any such candidate?

This year Connecticut again has no such candidates for its highest offices. The Democratic nominee for governor, Ned Lamont, has taken a position on U.S. Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh but no position on how the overwhelming deficit projected for the next state budget should be closed. The Republican nominee for governor, Bob Stefanowski, has had nothing to say about either issue.

Chris Powell is a columnist for the Journal Inquirer in Manchester.

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