Wednesday, May 20, 2009

A quick political Detour

I know I said yesterday (and I still maintain) that this blog does not discuss politics except for where politics intersect with transit/transportation, however I have to continue on my detour because of my genuine concern for this amazing city.

I'm obviously not happy about the outcome of the primary yesterday, but there's not a whole lot I can say other than: I hope a worthy challenger presents themselves before November or I hope our incumbent mayor shows us much more than what he has up to this point. However, that is not the point of this post.

What concerns me in this instance is involvement. Everyone knows we love our sports teams here in Pittsburgh (myself included). Just how much we love sports hit me today while I was surfing Post, and found under their "most e-mailed stories" that the number one story was not related to the election. In fact, the #1 story had something to do with the fact that James Harrison is afraid to fly. That whole election thing didn't even make it into the most e-mailed stories for today, period.

Is Pittsburgh sports REALLY that important, or do Pittsburghers REALLY not care about politics? I'm afraid it's a little of both. I'd be frightened to know the results if a poll was taken to see how many voters were swayed in favor of Mr. Ravenstahl because of his January "name change".

Turnout was low throughout the county at roughly 21%, and the unofficial vote count for the mayoral primary in Pittsburgh was roughly 45,000 or 13% of 334,000 residents (using 2000 census statistics). I understand that Pennsylvania voting laws don't help the situation, but if a republican or independant could vote in a democratic primary, would the outcome have been all that different?

I am surprised and saddened that a citizenry that is so fiercely loyal to this city is so apathetic to influencing the mechanisms for change. What can be done to change that? Are people disillusioned, or do they just not care? I sincerely hope it's not the latter.


illyrias said...

"Is Pittsburgh sports REALLY that important, or do Pittsburghers REALLY not care about politics?"

I have another 2 options. Do the people who email stories really find sports that important? Or do the people that email stories really not care about local pgh politics? Keep in mind that a significant percentage of online readership is ex-pats as well as a lot of people who live outside the city and can't vote in city elections.

There is also a large (elderly/poor) segment of the city that have probably never seen

Lastly, more than 13% of eligible voters voted. We do have some residents under the age of 18.

East Busway Blogger said...

Your points are well taken. Perhaps I didn't do a thorough job of backing up my argument, however, I still feel there is a certain apathy towards politics in this city.

I point to the fact that incumbent mayors in this city have a ridiculously high re-election rate. To me that says, this election thing isn't worth the thought it would take to look at each candidate individually, I'll just pick the guy who got it before.