December 9, 2018

Find a Reason

Spectator
By Stephen Tuttle | Oct. 29, 2018

Are you going to vote? Do you vote for someone or against their opponent? 

We know how people claim they make voting decisions. We also know they might be fudging. 

Almost everybody claims they vote for the person, not the party. Yet, more than 70 percent of voters cast ballots for candidates in a single party. Well, the candidates in that party best represent us. We vote a party line and deny it. 

We also know people claim to dislike Congress. A lot. Their approval rating regularly hovers around 20 percent. But we send back 90 percent of those we so disapprove of election after election. Apparently we believe they’re mostly bums, except our own member of Congress who must not be part of the problem.   

Let's assume you're a conscientious voter who believes the glass is half-full, and you make your choices based on the good things a candidate might do. There is much for you to like this election cycle because we’re being promised a lot.

Republican candidates running for statewide or legislative offices either won't raise taxes or will reduce them, will cut red tape, and they'd like to fix the roads. They're against illegal immigration, and Bill Schuette, their gubernatorial candidate, says he'll put an end to sanctuary cities. We'll just ignore the fact that immigration is actually a federal responsibility.

Democrats, from gubernatorial candidate Gretchen Whitmer on down, have a long to-do list: fix the roads, reduce auto insurance premiums, expand healthcare coverage, protect our water, increase funding to public education, give teachers raises ... wow. Never mind there's not really enough money to do all that, and a likely Republican legislature won't want to do any of that. (Maybe they'll put some money toward roads; so many candidates have promised that they'll likely have to do something.)  

In our congressional race, Republican incumbent Jack Bergman is promising family leave and protection for our water, and he favors legal recreational marijuana. Not very Republican of him by today's standards, and he'd have to convince another 218 members of Congress his family-leave idea is a good one. 

Matt Morgan, his Democratic opponent, has a laundry list similar to Whitmer's, and he's going to bring people together to find bipartisan solutions to our problems. Good luck with that.   

It should be noted here that none of the candidates of either party are the demon seeds being portrayed in the negative ads. Those ads are artless, clueless toxic waste absent much connection to reality. You should simply ignore them. 

Still, maybe you'd rather vote against someone. Take your pick. There's State Senator Wayne Schmidt, the Snap-on tool of special interest groups. There's the Invertebrate Six, the Republican candidates for Grand Traverse County Commission who found a cowardly excuse to avoid facing opponents in a forum. (Sonny Wheelock was the GOP exception, and good for him.) There's the over-reaching, over-promising Democrats.

Whatever the reason for whomever you vote for or against, we should probably keep in mind that even if elected, our legislators and congressional representatives will just be one of many and are unlikely to do anything they've promised in a campaign. 

Maybe you've just given up altogether. That's the decision most Michiganders are likely to make; voter turnout in the 2014 midterm elections was a pathetic 18 percent according to the Michigan Secretary of State's office.

But if you decided not to vote, don't worry: We voters will take care of that for you. 

It's nothing for you to be concerned about. We'll decide the issues for you. We'll decide who's going to guide our public schools, whether or not marijuana will be legalized, if you can more easily obtain an absentee ballot, if we'll have an independent redistricting commission, who will represent you in Lansing and in Washington, and who will be your next governor. We'll decide the future of schools, roads, drinking water, taxes, healthcare coverage, insurance rates, air quality ... it's a pretty long list.

Maybe you don't believe your one little vote means much. In 1960, a single changed vote in each precinct around the country would have elected Richard Nixon instead of John Kennedy. In 2000, just two changed votes per precinct in Florida would have given Al Gore, not George W. Bush, the presidency.

With all the federal, state, and local elections around the country, every year there are a couple dozen or so races that end in ties and are often determined by a game of chance or a name drawn out of a hat. A single additional vote would have been decisively important. 

And remember this: While you're not voting, the people with whom you most vehemently disagree surely are. And you've made their votes all the more powerful.    

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