Barry Saunders

Saunders: If you didn't vote, don't complain about who got elected

Several years ago, when I visited South Africa, the newspapers there were running stories of two tourists on safari who were mauled by a lion after they ventured to within striking distance of the cat.

The main thing I remember is that the one who survived said the lion looked so gentle.

Want to bet that many people who voted for Gov. Pat McCrory – or, worse, didn’t vote at all – have that same sentiment?

Just like those two tourists, many Tar Heels – especially the ones who are seeing their unemployment checks sliced or who won’t be able to afford medical treatment – are likely now feeling mauled.

In the weeks since he took office, McCrory has presided over a Republican-led legislature that has cut unemployment benefits, shortened the length of time you can draw benefits and has now rejected federal money that would have expanded Medicaid coverage for 500,000 citizens.

Citing a “broken” healthcare system, McCrory and like-minded legislators voted to reject billions in federal funds that would’ve provided those citizens with coverage.

Did you vote?

How’s that for “customer service,” which has become McCrory’s befuddling mantra?

By a show of hands, how many of you half a million folks didn’t vote?

Uh-uh. Get those hands on up there. It’s more than that. You were either lazy or you concluded that it doesn’t matter who’s in office or you figured that since Charlotte thrived under McCrory then the rest of the state would, too, right?

Of course, many of you may be thrilled with the way things are going. If so, “right on.”

In a way, it’s understandable that some voters may have been lulled into thinking McCrory was harmless or compassionate, may have thought they were electing – or, if they didn’t vote, allowing to be elected – as their governor a soft-hearted, open-collared Ward Cleaver.

“Meat cleaver” is more like it. They failed to anticipate with what alacrity McCrory and his pals would attack programs designed to help people who need help.

As tempting as it is to lambaste as a bunch of heartless ideologues those legislators who so joyously approve these policies, the real blame lies elsewhere.

If you didn’t raise your hand earlier, that would be with you. Voter turnout in the state was 70 percent, a very respectable figure unless you were in the 30 percent of registered voters who didn’t.

Politics, not ‘Idols’

Democracy North Carolina, a nonpartisan voting rights organization, reported that 53,000 fewer Democrats voted in 2012 than in 2008. You know all those preachers who were telling their congregants to sit this one out because they disagreed with President Obama’s stand on gay marriage?

Do you reckon they’ll now be providing health care for their members who need it who heeded their counterproductive advice?

Every two or four years, we have a chance to take part in the nothing-short-of-glorious democratic process, to determine who will make the laws under which we live.

Likewise, every two or four years millions sit on their hind parts, more involved with who is going to be the next “American Idol” than with who will be the next governor or president.

Listen up: Scotty and Fantasia and Clay have health care.

To paraphrase Shakespeare’s Cassius, “The fault, dear non-voters, lies not in our stars, but in ourselves.”

Make that “yourselves.” I voted.

Related stories from Raleigh News & Observer