THE BLOG
11/11/2014 11:11 am ET Updated Jan 11, 2015

What Does It Say That Two-Thirds of Americans Did Not Vote in the Recent Midterm Elections?

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At his post-midterm election press conference, President Barack Obama noted that two-thirds of the electorate did not vote.

How could it be in a democratic republic that 66 percent of the people trusted 33 percent to stand proxy for their interest? Can we cavalierly blame voter suppression tactics for this dissatisfaction?

The president's astonishing statement could alleviate some Democrats of the self-reflective pressure of addressing the reasons they loss seats in Colorado and North Carolina, with a race in Virginia that was supposed to be a cake walk where Democratic incumbent Mark Warner after several days was declared the victor?

The tragic irony remains that the two-thirds who did not vote still voted. They voted for the status quo that has left them frustrated and beyond hope.

There are many possibilities for two-thirds of the electorate staying at home. There is the fact that midterm elections always produce lower turnout than general elections.

But there are other possibilities that require further examination. Has the novelty of Barack Obama run its course?

Think back to the exuberance in 2008. The excitement of young people getting into the political process for the first time, the tears shed by Americans of all races because they were seeing something they never thought possible.

But the excitement of the campaign soon gave way to the complexities of governing. Did they believe that working to elect the first black man as president completed the job, or did they naively think that once elected the president would take care of everything else?

Though many stayed at home during the 2010 midterms, they rallied again to reelect the president in 2012. With only two years left in his term, those who felt were outside the process only to have their participation make a difference may have now slipped back to the familiarity of apathy.

A portion of the two-thirds could also comprise part of the contingency that because of the inability to find work have graciously bowed out the job search so that the current unemployment rate appears far more impressive on paper than in the dire reality of many Americans.

Are the two-thirds reflective of what I call the "Bob Dylan demographic"?

Dylan famously penned the lyrics, "When you got nothing, you got nothing to lose." The Bob Dylan demographic is not bound by race, gender, or orientation; it does not concern itself with red or blue states.

It is a pervasive condition that sees all possibility through the narrow lens of nihilism. If that is the ethos of many who did not vote, why should we be surprised turnout was so low?

At the March on Washington, Martin Luther King stated: "We cannot be satisfied as long as a Negro in Mississippi cannot vote and a Negro in New York believes he has nothing for which to vote."

While King's words do apply exactly to today's situation, the sentiment remains. How can we be satisfied with the level of obvious dissatisfaction that exist in the nation today?

If this trend remains, it will do so at the peril of the country at-large. For as William Butler Yeats opined in the Second Coming, "Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold; Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world."

A democratic republic is only as strong as its weakest link. It is far easier to bemoan that two-thirds of the electorate did not vote than it is to ask "why."

Ultimately it is the president's legacy that is at stake. But that legacy is not confined to merely passing legislation, but to ascertain if his election was indeed a transformational moment for the country.

Or was the election of Barack Obama a momentary diversion, a political novelty void of any lasting impact? Has the nation made up its mind to return to its sedentary ways?

In 2008, the passionate chant that swept the nation of, "Yes, we can!" has been replaced in 2014 by two-thirds of Americans who rather dispassionately said, "No, we can't!"