Be counted Featured

9:52am EDT July 22, 2002

In the 1996 presidential election, there were more people of voting age that stayed home than went to the polls. The numbers continue to dwindle and the polls reflect it. People are disgusted with both Democrats and Republicans and no longer feel a strong allegiance to either party.

The number of voters listing themselves as “other” doubled from 1992 to 1999, leading to a fractured political landscape full of questionable candidates and extremist views.

Voter apathy continues to grow, caused by broken pledges and the feeling that one vote doesn’t matter. People don’t take the time to study the candidates or the issues, and cast their votes based on name recognition alone. Too often, a lot of money and a campaign based on telling people what they want to hear wins the election.

There are too many career politicians recycling the same rhetoric and not being held to their promises. You may be asking, “What does this have to do with me?” The answer is, “Everything.”

Each of us needs to stand up and be counted. We do have the ability to make the difference. We need to demand more from our politicians than a good marketing strategy that tells us what we want to hear. This is where you can make change happen.

First, it is important to recognize that the ability to vote is a privilege. People here take the right to vote for granted and don’t see its value. In some Third World countries, where democracy is seen as a privilege, voter turnout is close to 100 percent. For us to make a difference, we must exercise our right to vote.

Second, we need to be well informed on the issues and the candidates. Yes, there is work involved to become an intelligent voter. However, it is beneficial to take the time and do things right while we still have a voice. Just because we have the ability to be heard today doesn’t mean it can’t be taken away tomorrow.

Lastly, your vote can make the difference. The “other” category will attract more and more candidates such as Jesse Ventura — a former pro wrestler and now the governor of Minnesota — a man with questionable credentials. Ventura won a three-candidate race with only 37 percent of the popular vote, meaning the majority of people in Minnesota are represented by someone they didn’t vote for.

Unless you want people like this representing you, you need to take your vote seriously. If you don’t stand for something, you stand for nothing. Please vote.

Fred Koury (fkoury@sbnnet.com) is president and CEO of SBN.