Voting in the Passive Voice

What polling has done to the American democracy.
  1. The Salem Screen Printers plant in Salem, New Hampshire, is like thousands of other factories in America. Set among various freeway intersections in a quasi-sylvan environment, and situated just off auspiciously named South Policy Street, it employs dozens of friendly, partially educated young people who are delighted to have a job. The work itself, which involves putting blank T-shirts under a die stamp and then removing them with logos imprinted, is only notionally above the burger-flipping level of which we hear so much. But then New Hampshire's deep and lingering recession has at least assured a free market for cheap take-out food: In all directions across the state, the mall outlets for T-shirts with logos putting up the shutters.(You haven't vibrated to the deep resonance of the word "emptiness," bye the way, until you have seen a dying mall in today's United States....

The complete text of “Voting in the Passive Voice” is not in the Byliner library, but we love it so much we included an excerpt and a link to the full story on

Originally published in Harper's, April 1992

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