#897 – Dick Bernard: Voting and Polls…Virginia's 7th Cong District Primary and a vote at a Peacemakers meeting

Some quick comments. I generalize the data in below paragraphs, but I don’t think I’m far off.
Last night part of my daily news watching time was interrupted by reporting on the Cantor-Brat Primary in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, a place far away from where I live.
There was endless breathless chatter about this last night, and today. What does this all mean? My favorite distiller of national political news, Just Above Sunset, has this overnight post. Here and here is some information about the aforesaid election and congressional district.
For me the basic relevant data was the voter turnout. That is always the important baseline in American election: Who showed up at the polls?
In general (not attempting to be precise, though I don’t think I’m not too far off):
757,917 is the 2010 population of the 7th District.
Over 60% of these, it would appear, would be of voting age.
That would be, perhaps, about 450,000 potential voters.
Of these, most would appear to be Republican leaning, perhaps 250,000.
Yesterday, 65,000 voted (heavy turnout for the Primary); 29,000 of those for Cantor.
There can be endless arguments about what yesterdays vote in suburban Richmond VA means.
For me, the essential fact is (as it always is), who showed up at the polls to actually vote. Cantor got, perhaps, 12% of those who would probably be inclined to agree with him. Maybe 13% voted for Brat. 75% of Cantor’s natural “base” didn’t bother to vote at all.
Voting matters. Well informed voting matters even more.
Yesterday, I was at a meeting in which I participated in another interesting vote.
It was the Minnesota Alliance of Peacemakers (MAP), a group in which I have long been active (Their website is down at the moment, so I can’t provide a working link). I’d guess we people in MAP would self-describe as peace and justice activists. Others might call us “leftists”….
We’ve been around since 1995.
There were about 25 of us at this summer meeting, and at the end, someone suggested complimenting President Obama on the courage to do the prisoner swap with Afghanistan. More on that in a moment.
Back home, last night, on the CBS evening news, the latest poll was reported that a majority of Americans “disapprove” of the Prisoner swap. It was a typical piece of reporting – no idea of what the exact questions were, etc. But probably accurate data, as it stands, involving, perhaps, a sample of 500-1000 people across the United States.
Back at the MAP meeting, the suggestion morphed into a motion that our organization should write the letter of compliment. In fact, I was the one who made the motion.
After a short but very active flurry of debate, a recorded vote was taken: 14 in favor, 7 against, 4 abstaining.
I cannot comment on why people voted as they did, except that it is a safe bet that those objecting were not birds-of-a-feather with those who are wanting a continuation of Guantanamo and a continued U.S. dominance through military in the south Asia region. The “no” voters in my particular circle likely didn’t think that the Presidents action went far enough. But, of course, I don’t know that.
In this small group, which includes, now, about 75 organizations, only about a third of the delegates were in attendance (here, that is called “summer vacation”).
But, like the vote in Virginia’s 7th Congressional District, the decisions are made by the people who show up and vote. Those who stayed home have no say.
If you want the right to complain, you have to show up….
The political parties know this, through endless examples like Cantor’s defeat in his home district.
Best we learn that same lesson.

POSTNOTE: Also at yesterdays MAP meeting, a filmmaker discussed her major project, “9 Pieces of Peace” Nine Pieces of Peace001, described as “A universal story of courage and compassion as a Vietnam veteran, a peace advocate, and a community struggle to find common ground.” More about the upcoming release here.

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