Advertisement
YOU ARE HERE: LAT HomeCollectionsDemocracy

PLATFORM : Non-Voting Idiots

November 08, 1994| GEORGE S. MITROVICH, a San Diego civic leader, told The Times: and

Edith Hamilton, that remarkable teacher and woman of letters, was unyielding in her admiration of Greek civilization and of the Athenians, who, she believed, achieved the world's purest form of democracy.

We may differ with Hamilton's assessment of the democratic attributes of the Athenians (it was a slave state and women couldn't vote), but find agreement with her in that the Athenians had a profound understanding of the word idiot.

To the Athenians, an idiot was any person who did not participate in the democratic life of the nation, and who, therefore, in the Periclean sense, was viewed as useless.

Today, in California and across the nation, several millennia beyond ancient Athens and its experiment in democracy, millions of our citizens will ignore our own elections. They will do so for a variety of reasons--but whatever those reasons are, the citizenry's failure will represent a staggering indifference to the fate of American society and our democratic institutions.

Their contemptible refusal to vote, which is the bare, minimum requirement of a citizen in a democratic state, is not a new phenomenon. It has been growing at an alarming rate since the 1960s.

It has been said, "we get the government we deserve." Please, if you don't vote, spare those of us who take this duty with the utmost seriousness, your empty, hypocritical complaints.

The Athenians were wrong about a number of things, but in their definition of the useless members of their society, the "idiots" among them, they got it right!

Advertisement
Los Angeles Times Articles
|
|
|