I have a good friend, let's call him Jerry. He's a fine fellow, multi-talented, a good father, and now a retiree. He reads a lot and keeps up with the latest trends, including politics. Most people can't name all nine Supreme Court justices. Jerry can.
He doesn't like bullies, braggarts or bullshitters, so you can guess how Jerry feels about Donald Trump. In fact, like many millions of other Americans, he says Trump is the worst thing that's ever happened to our country in his lifetime. Jerry appreciates decent folks and well-written prose, so you can imagine his reaction to Trump's frequent abuse of people and the English language in those presidential tweets.
Given this background, you'd probably predict that Jerry would definitely vote for most anyone running against Trump in a presidential election. But you'd be wrong. You see, Jerry doesn't vote. Never has.
He's not alone. 42% of eligible citizens did not vote in 2016 presidential election, and among those who did very few are now undecided about voting for or against Trump in 2020 – their number is dwarfed by the 99 million eligible people who failed to vote at all last time.
Here's the rub. Non-voting informed citizens like Jerry could easily be the deciding factor in the upcoming 2020 election. That is, if they finally decided to get off the couch and cast the first vote of their lives. It could actually make the big difference needed next time. That's because the Democrats must not only win a majority in the electoral college and popular vote, but their margin of victory must be substantial in both to effectively prevail over Donald Trump. Why is that?
In 2016 as an underdog, Trump boldly said he would not accept the results of the election if he lost. And even after prevailing in electoral count, he insisted his historic 2.9-million loss in the popular vote was rigged and he actually won since over 5 million illegal ballots were cast (presumably all for his opponent).
There is absolutely no evidence of widespread voter fraud in 2016, but Trump and his base are inured to many facts, this one included That's why only an overwhelming Democratic victory in 2020 will likely ensure a peaceful transfer of power from Trump to a duly-elected Democrat. And some say even that could be in doubt.
Back to Jerry. Family and friends have long pressured him to vote but, as you might suspect, Jerry has a stubborn streak. His go-to excuses are old chestnuts like one vote doesn't make a difference and all politicians are pretty much the same (which he doesn't really believe since Trump arrived on the political scene).
So, even though he's now in his 60s, Jerry can belatedly become an actual decider in the American process of choosing leaders. And as an eager newbie he can then say, along with other previous non-voters, that he waited until the most important election of his time to make a difference in this troubled land.
Editor’s note: Michael Barr is a writer who lives in Athens Township.