Opinion » Columnists

Almost 50 percent of Americans don't vote, why?

There's been considerable discussion in political circles regarding the candidacy of Ralph Nader as an Independent. 
The general consensus seems to indicate that stalwart Democrats are mortified that Nader's running due to their bitterness at losing the 2000 election, which many blame on Nader.

The Republican contingency seems to support a Nader candidacy in 2004, because it's generally assumed on both sides of the aisle that Nader will siphon away votes from John Kerry and ultimately benefit George W. Bush's re-election bid.  Something far more important to our Democracy is going on
here than the 'Bush vs. Kerry' election or even 'Nader siphoning votes' and no one is talking about it.  That is to say no one in the controlling political, television, or newspaper arena.

The participation of voting-age eligible individuals in recent presidential elections has been embarrassingly low.  The last time voter participation eclipsed 60 percent was in 1968, widely believed to be the nearest our country has come to falling apart at the seams since the Civil War.  The years since 1968 have seen a high of 55.2 percent turnout in 1972 with a
low of 49.1 percent in 1996.  Our bitterly contested most recent presidential election between George W. Bush and Al Gore weighed in at a light 51.3 percent turnout.  Why is it that half the voting public doesn't think it worth such a minimal time and effort commitment to make their voice heard for the most powerful position on Earth?

While there's likely no one answer to why people don't vote, a sense of apathy and helplessness resounds when speaking with nonvoters.  Talk to any nonvoter and you're likely to hear some of the following responses: 'My vote doesn't make a difference,' 'All the politicians are crooked anyway,' 'Politicians don't care about people like me,' or 'It's too much work to
try and keep all the politicians' promises straight and they don't follow through with them anyway.'  Some of these statements may seem extreme, but they shed considerable light on the disillusionment felt by almost a plurality of the nonvoting citizenry.

The realization that many voters tend to vote AGAINST a specific candidate rather than FOR one only serves to further illustrate the need for change.

We've been taught it's our civic duty to show up on election day to help keep America strong, but how strong of a republic can be built when the system is set up in such a way that we
only have two choices, oftentimes choosing between bad and worse.

Insisting that our representatives strengthen to the point of overhaul the McCain-Feingold campaign finance legislation is one positive step we can make.  Another is to actively support the efforts of third party candidates, whether it be Diane Templin of the American Party, Michael Badnarik of the Libertarian Party, or Ralph Nader running as an Independent.  We'll all win if we can bring more political options to the fore and ultimately cast off the stigma that voting for a third party
candidate is a 'wasted vote.'

One thing is clear in our current political landscape; more options are direly needed!  The two-party duopoly has effectively alienated a half of voting-age individuals into dissociating themselves from a system that affects their lives immensely, whether it be through taxation, schooling, or potentially being conscripted into service of the state.  One can agree with Ralph Nader's positions or not depending on your belief structure, but one can hardly argue that the ascension of a viable third presidential candidate or party to prominence would be detrimental to the American people.  This would be only the beginning of the amendments necessary to reform our political process, yet it would bring us alot closer towards truly making our government of, by, and for the PEOPLE.

Daniel Starken
St. Paul, MN

The United States' Head of Diplomacy, or Secretary of State, is an anachronistic, incompetent, meddling, intrusive, insolent and arrogant, rude individual, a brash, foul-mouthed upstart, a conceited, self-important guttersnipe and an insult to the international community, as fit for the job as a pedophile janitor in a grade school.

Tillerson must go!