To Vote or Not to Vote?


 Why Should We Vote?

Every four years, our government (United States) sets out to prove that the people still control this country by suggesting that we get to vote on who will lead us into the next four years. Do we really get to select the best man for the job? What power does our vote truly carry? And finally, if we did have the control we were supposed to have, why do we keep getting ourselves into trouble with those we elected to run things?

Shakespeare in Hamlet, Act III, Scene I (changed ever so slightly for our purposes) wrote, “To vote or not to vote, that is the question. Whether tis nobler in the mind to suffer the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune, or to take arms against a sea of troubles and by opposing end them.”

In layman’s terms, should you keep your opinion to yourself or speak upon the greatest sin of our electoral times, not voting?

How do we get to select the next man to run for the President’s seat? Well, to be honest, we don’t. A government elected group of people called the Electoral College get together and, based on what they think, put candidates into one of two political parties (either the Democratic or Republican party). The higher officials within these two parties choose who they want to enter into the “Presidential Race.” The only say Americans have in that process is we get to elect the people who run the parties. Can you say “snow-job?” Just because I vote to let a congressman speak for me in Senate hearings and majority votes about bills set to become law, that in no way infers that I trust him to be my advocate when it comes to someone seated to run the country. I don’t pretend to be either Democrat or Republican. If I vote, I choose who I think is making the most sense and give him my vote. For the last three elections my vote was counted and disregarded.

In Harris County / City of Houston during the 1996 Presidential elections, our population was 3,076,867. The number who voted was 855,893 (per American Votes vol. 22 Scammon et al © 1998 Congressional Quarterly Inc.). The elections could be drastically changed if our total registered voters turned out to vote, right? Wrong!!

The way our country designed the electoral process was; “The founders premised their insulated system on the ability of an electoral college of the nation’s most virtuous and learned men to rise above petty factions and select leaders with national vision.” (Congressional Quarterly’s Guide to the Presidency Michael Nelson © 1989)

During the Primaries, anyone meeting the qualifications laid down by law can apply for candidacy to the presidential seat for the United States. The Electoral College then takes a majority vote to nominate people from that group for the candidacy. This approach makes sense if you have a direct voice in the Electoral College, but aside from those elected for that position, the rest of the population basically gets what they give us. How many people actually vote for the primaries?

The Encyclopedia Britannica “Electoral college: In the US, a group of electors chosen within each state to elect the president and vice president. Each state has as many presidential electors as it has representatives in both houses of Congress….although the constitution still allows electors to use their discretion, electors are usually pledged to support a parties candidate…whichever candidate wins a plurality in a state wins all the electoral votes in that state.”

Maybe it’s just me, but just because the majority of the people in the state of Texas vote for Dole, I don’t want him to get my vote. I put my vote in for a specific candidate and although he may not win overall, the vote itself would hold more meaning and more strength if it stood alone than if just because the rest of my district disagreed with me they get to change my vote.

Presidents Rutherford B. Hayes in 1876 ,Benjamin Harrison in 1888, and more recently George Bush Jr in 2002 won a majority of electoral votes even though they received fewer popular votes than their opponents. This fact is also a matter of record in the Encyclopedia Britannica.

The state of Texas over five elections voted as follows: Reagan, Reagan, Bush, Bush and Dole.

The winners, as a matter of history: Reagan, Reagan, Bush, Clinton, Clinton.

I came of voting age before the 1984 elections and my vote has been changed without my permission, and in the beginning of my age of voting, without my knowledge or understanding, at least twice now. How many times has yours been changed?

How do we as the public get to know how many and who were in the primaries? Is there a 1-800 number? More than likely it’s a 1-900 number! Money talks, even in elections, and especially in politics. In today’s elections, the guy who rises to the top is not always cream of the crop; and even if he/she is a great leader with strong influential abilities, how do we know what they themselves said and what they were prompted to say by everyone else in their campaign army?

Some organizations affecting modern campaigns include: corporations, labor unions, interest groups, public action committees, the national party, state parties and third parties. Campaign groups today consist of: campaign workers, media consultants, public attitudes, the candidate’s family, a running mate, political allies, campaign strategist, schedulers, advance people, advertising experts, issue experts, fund raisers, pollsters, computer analysts, and sometimes the incumbent President. Oh yeah, and don’t forget the candidate himself.

With all these people hanging on to the candidate, how can they be expected to form their own opinion? Everyone in the campaign telling them how to stand, what to say, how to act, dress, walk and think. If they can’t remember who they themselves are, how can we be expected to form an educated opinion about them as a leader for the nation’s best interests? I don’t care what the polls say he should say; I want to know what HE says and how HE would react to the problems of the office when a split second decision could decide the fate of living, breathing Americans who don’t have the time to wait for that next poll to come out.

Campaigns, like Christmas, have gone too commercial. It has become a fight to see who can dig up and throw the most mud at their opponent. We all know nobody is perfect and that’s not what we as a nation need to be looking for; what we need is an honest person who has the nation’s best interest at heart and who will not embarrass us when people see who we have chosen to represent this country as its leader and chief.

Do we really get to pick the best man for the job? No, our powers of selection are pretty much forfeited to the Electoral College. What power does our vote truly carry? Not much, considering that if we choose to vote one way and the majority votes another, then they can and will give our vote to the other guy. Finally, why do we keep getting freaks of political power in office? Because the Electoral College gets the say in who can and can’t run for candidacy, and because the ones who do get in aren’t who the huge following in the campaign party want us to believe they are.

When our founders began this system, I don’t think they had our population numbers in mind. As the population grows, we have a wider base of possible candidates to choose from. Let them apply. Then the Electoral College can shave down the numbers based on the legal requirements of the position and qualifications of the individual vying for the candidacy. Then have each one write a short bio and campaign platform consisting of 4-5 paragraphs. That should be released to the press and let us have a preliminary vote where only the top gets to the primaries. Then the parties can squabble like wolf pups fighting for meat to select who they endorse. Once that has been done, hold the final elections and pick the best person for the job based on the total counted vote of the population, not the lesser of two evils.

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