I think that politics can be summed up in two statements:
1) Given an honest count, politicians will follow the will of the voters.
2) In the absence of voters, politicians will follow the will of their monetary donors.
The #OCCUPY movement has changed our national political conversation, and raised public awareness of economic injustice and financial/political corruption. These are significant political successes.
But the #OCCUPY movement has failed in one very important place: It has not succeeded in Occupying the Ballot.
In Houston this past Saturday, about 94% of registered voters in the City of Houston decided that they didn’t care who governed them. They decided to let a majority of the 6% of the voters who turned out at the polls make the decision for them.
I have said for many years that this is also true in politics. Statistically speaking, more Americans identify themselves as Democrats than as Republicans. Republicans, however, are statistically more likely to actually vote.
Quoting from a Houston Chronicle story, “A lot of people are angry at virtually all institutions and the government is high on their list,” said Richard Murray, a political science professor at the University of Houston. “And these are the people in a low-turnout election that are most likely to show up because they are angry. They’re agitated.”
In other words, they’re motivated to get off their sofas, and put their ballots where their mouths are.
#OCCUPY is doing a great job of issue visibility and protest event organization, but the Occupiers must also come up with creative ways to mobilize their moral supporters into voting supporters.
According to blogger Charles Kuffner, “Oh, and just for the record, turnout has been unofficially pegged at 56,998 – 55,934 in Harris, 1,063 in Fort Bend, and 1 – yes, one – in Montgomery. That person voted early for Thibaut and Jones. Turnout for the city was a hair over six percent.”
And that’s apparently the way it is … for now.
Christie, Burks, Brown, Davis: Those are your runoff winners, by Charles Kuffner.
Runoff election results for Houston City Council (KTRK-TV): Updated 12/13/11
ELECTION NIGHT RESULTS (Harris, Montgomery & Fort Bend Counties): Results for the December 10, 2011 Election are available in two formats
Houston runoff shows voters want change – Houston Chronicle