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One Manís Vote

I have always found it somewhat appropriate that Election Day falls so closely after Halloween. This year they are particularly close, with one day separating the two. While American culture traditionally engages in scary superstitious costumed encounters on Oct. 31, we have been subjected to a seemingly interminable assault of political horror during this presidential campaign. Hopefully, this political spook show will come to an end Nov. 2. Maybe.

Well, I have always been somewhat ambivalent about voting, particularly for president. My initial voting experience required a constitutional amendment before it could happen. In 1971 the 26th Amendment was passed and lowered the voting age from 21 to 18. Somehow it seemed reasonable that if an American was old enough to be drafted for war and shipped off to war in Vietnam, they should at least be able to vote for who became commander-in-chief.

So, at the age of 20 I registered to vote as an independent and made my first presidential vote. Only about half of the newly enfranchised under-21 voters cast ballots that year, and this still remains the high-water mark for this group. I cast my ballot for George McGovern who was running against Richard Nixon. Nixon carried 49 states and trounced McGovern. Nixon would later be forced to resign from office for criminal activities during the election. I always felt that when Nixon abdicated, McGovern should have been given the keys to the White House. Instead, they went to Gerald Ford, who had not been elected but had been selected for officeóby Nixon.

So, my first presidential election experience was not the best. I felt ripped off. But, I had a clear choice that year, particularly with regard to the Vietnam War. Since that first election experience, my voting strategy has generally devolved to selecting the lesser of the evils running. The lesser of the evils has not excluded third-party candidates, whom Iíve also often found lacking regarding some issue or other.

Needless to say, the 2000 election did not restore any of my faith in the process. That one candidate could win the popular vote by half a million votes and lose the election due to the action of the Supreme Court (where a key vote was provided by an appointee of a candidateís father) is still hard for me to accept. With all the recent discussions about spreading democracy abroad, youíd think a little effort would take place to ensure it at home. While in some areas new voting technology has been implemented and in some areas more legal support has been made available to voters to ensure their right to a ballot, the Electoral College system remains intact. In 48 states, electoral votes are awarded on a winner-take-all basis.

Despite my voting experiences, I plan to vote for president on Nov. 2 for one simple reason: George W. must go. After being selected for office, rather than elected, George W. has wreaked havoc from the White House on both the international and national fronts. In response to this situation my voting strategy has changed somewhat to one that focuses on reducing the harm that has been done by George W. and his crew.

I am voting on Nov. 2 because I think George W. has been a disaster for this country. There are few areas that he and his administration have left unharmed. George W. has looked America in the eye and lied about why an invasion of Iraq was justified. He has avidly perpetuated the myth that there was a connection between the terrorist attack of 9/11 and Iraq. He continues to claim all is going well in Iraq as the chaos and casualty numbers mount.

I am voting because George W. must go. While George W. has tried to focus attention on his War on Terror sideshow, the domestic terrain has gotten economically rocky for more people: The gap between the rich and poor has widened, the number of poor has risen, job opportunities have declined and fewer have adequate health coverage. At the same time, George W. has funneled vast amounts of this nationís capital into the hands of the countryís richest individuals. His spending habits have pushed the federal deficit into record heights that will affect this country for years to come.

I am voting Nov. 2 because George W. must go. The attack of this administration on the nationís environment has been constant and unprecedented. George W. has become a bigger threat to the countryís wilderness areas than any natural disaster. His advocacy of oil-drilling in the Arctic National Wilderness Reserve reflects his disregard for the land in order to serve the needs of the oil industry. Such proposals become even more offensive when far more oil could be pumped out of the fuel inefficiencies of the U.S. car and truck fleets by raising energy-efficiency standards. Itís not surprising that such energy policies have been developed with substantial input from George W.ís buddies at Enron, who are well known for their energy profiteering.

I am voting on Nov. 2 because George W. must go and because, despite the debacle of the 2000 election, I see my vote as another means to register my objection to the policies and lies of this administration. I will also continue to call for the democratization of the voting process and the end of the Electoral College. It seems particularly ironic to me that newly enfranchised voters in Afghanistan apparently have a more democratic balloting opportunity than we do.

I hope that this Nov. 2 I will be joined by a record number of voters who will also want a regime change in Washington to undo George W.ís damage. Voting for John Kerry is the only real alternative to four more years of George W. and I plan to vote accordingly. Vote Nov. 2! We cannot afford four more years of George W.

óTom Nattell

 


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