Dear Part-Time Voters, It's Not Them... Its You

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I would like to start by officially welcoming all of you part time voters to the party. Glad you finally arrived... fashionably late... as usual. But still here.  To take a note from Hillary, some people commonly refer to it as (insert air quotes) "C.P. time"... Your presence is duly noted. You've made your grand entrance into the political world, bringing with you all of your saltiness and fervor, thinking you can change the world and undo a century old political process with your sharpie scribbled poster board and revolutionary social media posts. Welcome to the party... What took you so long?

 You see, a lot of you are looking at that, thinking to yourself "He ain't talking to me". Au contraire, my friend. Chances are... you are EXACTLY who I am referring to. Confused? Allow me to expound on exactly what I mean. We all know THAT PERSON. While the party kicked off hours ago, they decide to show up not only when its convenient for them, but when they maximize their bang for their buck. I mean, hell... they spent butt loads of money on a single wear outfit for no other reason but to steal the spotlight, took hours of self reflecting and mirror dancing getting ready to show up, and strategically timed their entrance. Once they do get to the party, they have the audacity to expect you to celebrate their arrival, as if the party wasn't a party until THEY arrived. They then feel the need make their presence known by everyone in the room. They ask why the bar is out of Ciroc. They walk casually up to the DJ and request songs that were played hours ago. Then they spend the next thirty minutes complaining to anyone pretends to lend you an ear that food - that has been sitting out since the party was SUPPOSED to start - just happens to be cold, and how if this was YOUR party... things would be different. 

These people suffer from the same complex that plagues the American electorate. Especially the influx of new voters that injected themselves into the political arena around, lets say 2008. You overestimate your worth to the grand scheme of things. You see, even though you just showed up... the party has been going on for hours... in this sense, centuries. The game of politics didn't kick off when you decided to make your grand entrance, but YOU don't know that. The problem with being THAT person, is that your perspective is shaped by your truncated exposure to reality.

If you started voting in 2008, you accidentally timed your entrance perfectly...you're spoiled, politically. You walked in the party in the middle of the turn-up... when the drink specials were poppin, the money filled balloon drop commenced, and the DJ was playing your favorite song. You became engulfed in the electoral process when a unicorn flew by ushering in change. You were told your votes mattered, and by the end of the election, it appeared that it did. However, you were completely in the dark as to WHY it mattered. Most of you don't remember how we got to be able to vote for Obama... how ugly the primary was. You just just knew that we did... and it worked. You think you MADE the party... hell we all had a sense of ownership watching President Obama making his acceptance speech. No matter how we got there, regardless of what happened before... end game was all that matters. You actually thought that once you arrived the party changed; that the election of Barack Obama changed politics as we know it. Upon first glance, it appeared your efforts changed the world... that you showing up to the party actually mattered. 

By the middle of Obama's first term, the party reached its peak, with the 90's new jack swing. Healthcare (check). Economic bailouts (check). Not one, but two Supreme Court Justices (boom). The problem is we were still living off memories of the last party. But then it all came to a screeching halt. See, most of the newly crowned "politically savvy" didn't really take the time to consider the "Why". Why was the President able to forward so much of his agenda so early in his tenure? Why did he suddenly meet a wall of opposition that lasted the last six years of his presidency? Why has this president, "your President" been so drastically ineffective? The simple answer is 2010.

 There's a problem with being THAT person... If you are the person that only frequents the grand soirees, the parties with the sexy guest list and the big named headliners, you let a fair amount of parties fly under the radar. And we all know, the best parties are house parties. Well in 2010, a majority of the politically "fashionably late" voters completely slept on the House Party of all house parties. That was the midterm election cycle that shifted the dynamics in Washington. In 2010, the Republicans gained control of the House and began their plan to make Obama a "one term president" through unified opposition to everything. EVERYTHING.

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"What is a midterm election?", you ask. Well if you feel the need to ask that question, there is an increasing probability that you are the subject of this piece. However, for the time being, I'll digress. A midterm election is exactly what it sounds like. It is the election in-between elections. The cycle in which all of the House of Representative seats and one-third of Senate seats are up for grabs. They are also elections sprinkled throughout the term where local politicians are selected, like city councilmen, mayors, and Party representatives. It is the lesser attended, yet equally epic house party between the parties. It is the creamy white filling sandwiched between the chocolate wafers that transforms two plain cookies into the magical goodness that is "Oreo". President Obama's success in the 2008 election may have been contributed massive amounts of turnout and waves of new voters. More importantly, the early successes he enjoyed while in office was due to unified Democratic of both chambers of Congress and the Oval Office. That ended in 2010, when the 54% national turnout from 2008 turned into 37% turnout.

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 The problem is, the vast majority of people that turned out to the big party in 2008 decided "Eh... I'll just stay home tonight... I'm partied out". Plus, there was always the promise of another big party down the road. Can't spend to much energy on a House party. It's not like it matters, right? Wrong. In fact, the House party impacted the lives of normal, everyday citizens, far more than determining who was the figure head leader in office at the time. 2010 mattered exponentially more than any Presidential election could. aside from changing the balance of power in Washington, 2010 swung state legislatures in favor of the Republican Party, and close to  a dozen former Democratic Governor Seats were now occupied by GOP butts.  You would think these part-time voters would learn a valuable lesson about skipping out on House Parties. Again... au contraire. After showing back up to the polls in groves in 2012 to re-elect Obama, they followed up that showing with a dismal effort in 2014. This election allowed Republicans to take control of the Senate on the Federal level and expand on their growing domination in states across the country.

Why? Because of part-time voters. So if your mad about healthcare, there's a good possibility that it has more to do with your Republican STATE lawmakers' decision making than anything coming down from Washington. Unhappy about education? State legislature. Pissed off about discriminatory laws? Guess what. 2010. Most importantly, if you reside in any of the more than two-dozen Republican states that enacted laws to attempt to stall your efforts of voting in future elections, 98% of the new wave of suppressive voting legislation came AFTER the conservative shift in 2010. The 2010 midterm also gave Republicans control over this round of redistricting, giving them the opportunity to gerrymander their way into another couple of decades of control.  What people fail to realize is that the House party is where it all goes down. Its where party officials are selected, its where local government offices are filled. The midterm and local election are far more influential to your lives than any single body that occupies the seat behind that big pretty desk in that big pretty office. 

In typical fashion, you've shown up late to the party again. Except this time, your grand entrance - quite frankly - sucked. You thought you had your timing down, but in reality, this party was popping 2 years ago. So now, you're stuck with what's left... and you're real pissy about it. Now, all of a sudden, the system is broken. The very same system you've been pimping for the last 8 years. The very same system that Obama exploited to the max in his run for office. Now, it's the corporate donors fault. Now the DNC is corrupt. NOW we need a new system... Throw the baby out with the bath water. You're like the button mashing online gamer that blames the controller for every loss, when in reality, the person who's winning has been playing the game much longer than you could imagine. Your solution is to throw the controller in disgust when the results are 100% user error. The solution isn't an all out upheaval when the game is basically over. Real change comes at the foundation. If you truly want your vote to matter, vote when your vote actually matters. 

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Being a full time voter is far more than showing up to the presidential elections. Walking into a party half way through because that's when its most convenient (or most socially beneficial) for you to do neglects all of the effort that went into throwing the party in the first place. If you are mad about how delegates are allocated in the primary system, its probably because you - like most Americans - have never participated in a primary election before. If you are a college aged Democrat, this is literally the first primary you have had the chance to participate in. However, age is not an excuse. If you are as dejected about the process, become an active party member at the grass roots level. Know who your party delegates are. If you weren't a part time voter, you might actually have a chance at hand selecting your delegates. Participate in the state Party convention and change the way delegates are allocated. 

I get it... your upset, however maybe the candidates don't deserve all the blame. Maybe some of the ownership falls on your lap. If you want to change the game, you cant do so after the points are already being allocated. You have to define the rules before the game starts. But you cant do that showing up 3/4 of the way through the party - after the final drinks have been poured and the DJ is playing that "wrap it up" music. You see, in addition to overestimating their direct impact on the big picture, part-time voters also overestimate the actual direct impact that the person sitting in the oval office has on their everyday lives. The past six years has shown, the person who sits in the Oval only matters if he (or she) has favorable conditions surrounding them. No matter how popular (or unpopular) they are, their agenda can only be forwarded if they have the support of Congress. Here's where you actually matter. Staying home out of spite, and solidifying your position as "part-time" voter means you forfeit your vote in every one of the lower seats that rely far more heavily on your turnout than the president.  

You dislike Hillary because she's a politician, in a game of politicians, who's winning by doing what politicians do... pandering, playing to the masses, working the math. Yes, it seems like the Democratic Party hand selected Hillary long ago.... because that's how it happens. Since the moment Barack Obama made his convention speech in 2004, he was one of the two sure fire nominees, and the party cultivated his image ever since. It worked. They are doing the same thing with Julian Castro for future elections. Yes Superdelegates have way too much power... but the same Superdelegates elected Obama. I get it, Bernie has momentum. But, Hillary won 7 out of the last ten primaries in 2008. At the end of the day, the system still elected a Democratic president.If you don't like the candidates, start paying attention sooner, and stick to your guns. Hillary Clinton didn't just all-of-a-sudden become Hillary Clinton. She has been embedded in Wall Street, she has always been a Southern minded, mildly conservative Democrat, and she has always been a person who says untimely and culturally insensitive things from time to time. You just didn't know because you didn't have social media to tell you what to care about. Politicians have always been politicians. They have always pandered to minority voters when its convenient for them to do so. They have always taken corporate donations and made millions on speeches. They have always been fence straddlers on the issues. Its what being a politician is all about. Now, because the math is not in your favor, you want chaos? Don't miss out on the real party just to be among the big names.  The party started long before you got here... you're just playing catch up now.