Lemon: Prediction for ’08 " many of you won’t vote
Vail CO, Colorado
Just say no to New Year’s resolutions. According to Dr. William C. Douglass who writes the Douglass Report, the top four New Year’s Resolutions could do more harm than good.
1. Go on a diet ” his research shows that you are more likely to get fatter.
2. Get more exercise ” he quotes the European Society of Cardiology, which has released a study saying that exercise alone makes little difference in overall health.
3. Stop smoking ” In some cases, smoking (in extreme moderation ” my note) can actually open arteries.
4. Get that long overdue physical ” But who knows what other disease you could catch at the hospital, and if you do enough tests you will probably find something and expose yourself to more radiation than . . .
Absurd, isn’t it?
Pick a topic, and someone is going to come up with some angle that will make them money, obtain a commitment from you, and then confuse you. Which brings us to politics.
Of all of the predictions for 2008, Year of the Rat, whatever, I guarantee that you will be sick of election campaigning. For the first time since 1952 we do not have a president or vice president running for election. Therefore, theoretically, we don’t know how any of them will perform in the Executive Office. We could have our first woman, first African-American, first Mormon, first mayor, first Baptist minister, first prisoner of war, but not our first actor as president.
Starting on January 3, with the Iowa caucuses to “Super Duper Tuesday” (is this a presidential election, or a used car promotion?) on February 8, to the conventions in August, we will be inundated with campaign materials, 527-group hate mail, and attack ads. And then the real election campaigns will start. Wyoming, South Carolina, Michigan, Florida, and Nevada, for holding their presidential beauty contests in January, may all be penalized by the paragons of our political process, the parties, for violating their rules about when caucuses or primaries can be held.
This long, drawn-out, hugely expensive, media driven barrage of seemingly useless material we call our election process, may be one of the reasons the United States, that democracy of all democracies, has one of the lowest voter turnouts in the world. The Iowa caucuses, the harbinger of all things Presidential, average a massive 6.5 percent of registered voters. (New Hampshire does better.) Since 1964, the highest percentage of registered voters who actually went to the polls in the U.S. was 69 percent. During the same period, the lowest turnout for Germany was 77 percent; France also was 77 percent. The United Kingdom, perhaps now infected with the U.S. disease, averaged 76 percent voter turnout through the 1990s but recently has declined to a low of 58 percent in their 2001 election. India the world’s largest democracy with a literacy rate of only 65 percent averages 61 percent voter turnout, and Indonesia, the world’s largest Muslim country has a low of 84 percent and a high of 94 percent in voter turnout.
In most of the democratic world, the vote still means something to the people. Thailand and Kenya just completed elections rejecting military influence or cronyism in their governments. Madame Benazir Bhutto just gave her life for the sake of democratic reforms in Pakistan. Sadly, she probably would have survived the suicide bomb attempt if she was not such a consummate politician, and not poked her head out of her sedan to wave to her supporters.
Our challenge here in the U.S. this 2008 is to somehow ignore the fluff, the red herrings, the inappropriate diatribe inflicted upon us and look at the issues. There have been 63 women elected as president or prime minister in the last century in every region of the world, including North America (Canada). So gender should not be a consideration. We should not “vote or not vote” for Hillary because she is a woman. Included in that total of 63 women leaders, are 20 African-American women also were elected in Latin America and Africa, so Barack Obama is not unique, and should not be qualified or disqualified because of his race (or religious background).
Mitt Romney or Mike Huckabee should not be judged because they happen to be Mormon or Baptist.
We face critical decisions this election year. Will we allow partisanship to dominate our elections and continue the policy inertia with which we are plagued?
It will be extremely difficult to overlook the refuse. Don’t say NO to your resolution to vote this year. Just do it, on the issues.
Heather Lemon of Eagle-Vail writes a biweekly column for the Vail Daily. She can be reached at email@example.com.