Just casting a glance over the AP Wire on My Yahoo page and saw this headline that I'd overlooked earlier: Why do so few people vote in the U.S.?
The article gives all the usual reasons, voter disgust with negative campaigning, voter disillusion with politics in general (taking on a quick tour through Nixon, Clinton, and W's non-existent WMDs).
But to me, the real gold was near the bottom of the article:
Most broadly, the poll found that non-voters are not just disconnected from politics, but also from their communities. Non-voters were less likely to trust others, to have a strong support network of friends and family or to know their neighbors than regular voters were.
and the article quotes Curtis Gans, from the Center for the Study of the American Electorate at American University:
"We've had the fragmenting and atomization of our society," Gans said, driven by the 500-channel TV culture, the interstate, strip malls, abandonment of farms and the rise of the Internet. "All of those things have undermined community."
I've been trying to convince a friend of mine who's been feeling a little rootless and a little lonely to volunteer for some public cause: a soup kitchen, a political campaign. She mentioned that she wasn't convinced that it would be "worth it" (I think she was talking mostly about volunteering for politics, not the soup kitchen.) I think that, just by being able to sink a few roots into the soil in which you live, you begin to build community, and that is a good thing no matter who wins or looses an election.