George Graham

The Blight of Apathy


In the afternoon they came unto a land, in which it seemed always afternoon. All round the coast the languid air did swoon, breathing like one that hath a weary dream. Full-faced above the valley stood the moon; and like a downward smoke, the slender stream along the cliff to fall and pause and fall did seem.

Is this America on the eve of the 2014 midterm elections? Has the once mighty democracy become a Lotus Eater’s groggy dreamscape? Have we given up?

Not the Tea Party of course. They’re still ranting and raving. Not the billionaire Koch brothers and their ilk. They’re still spending and scheming.

But it seems to me that “we the people” have lost interest in politics. Turnout in recent primary contests has been incredibly sparse – only 8 percent of eligible voters bothered to cast ballots in Chicago recently, for example. And the people who do take the trouble to vote tend to be senior citizens. Only 18 teenagers voted in the Chicago primaries, CBS reported.

It’s a frightening situation. I can understand why a lot of Americans – especially the young and minorities – might be disillusioned. The “hope and change” they voted for in 2008 and 2012 have not materialized, not for them, anyway. Jobs are scarce. Student loans are expensive. Civil rights gains have been beaten back. Voter’s rights are being suppressed. Women’s rights are being trampled by legislatures across the land.

And so many promises have not been kept. Immigration reform remains a dream, for example

Barack Obama won the battle for the White House – both times – but it looks as if conservatives are winning the war. The President has been stymied by a Republican House, a filibustered Senate and red-state legislatures.

Meanwhile, the right-wing noise machine has succeeded in diverting the public’s attention with one fake “scandal” after another. The real issues are being drowned out as a compliant media fills the air with sensationalist chatter.

The struggle sometimes seems hopeless. With the Supreme Court in their corner and a powerful propaganda machine manipulating public opinion, right wingers have a lot going for them in the current political environment.

But there are some bright spots in the picture, some glimmer of hope that all is not lost.

The Progressive Change Campaign Committee reports that the tide is turning. Progressive candidates are winning in Democratic Party primaries and it looks as if American voters will get a real choice in the future. And they seem to be tiring of the same old right-wing rubbish they’ve been swamped with for so long.

Adam Green and Stephanie Taylor, the co-founders of PCCC, report in a recent op-ed:

There’s a rising economic populist tide in America, sweeping into office leaders like Senator (Elizabeth) Warren, New York Mayor Bill de Blasio, and a growing bloc of progressives in Congress.

The tide may seem overwhelmingly conservative, especially with the Tea Party’s success in pushing the Republican Party to the right. But – as the PCCC leaders observe – the tide is turning.

The November elections are an opportunity for progressives to gain an advantage. With low turnout, every vote is so much more crucial.

It is their determination and energy that have made the Tea Party such a force. If progressives can muster the same kind of vigor, their dream may not be impossible after all.

But we must hang on to that impossible dream. Like the Man of La Mancha, we must be prepared…

To fight for the right  without question or pause, to be willing to march into Hell for a heavenly cause

Click for the PCCC report.

Click to read Tennyson’s poem.

Click for “The Impossible Dream.”

About the author


I am a Jamaican-born writer who has lived and worked in Canada and the United States. I live in Lakeland, Florida with my wife, Sandra, our three cats and two dogs. I like to play golf and enjoy our garden, even though it's a lot of work. Since retiring from newspaper reporting I've written a few books. I also write a monthly column for