On Facebook, MySpace and on college campuses across the nation, there has been a huge drive to get voters registered. Local voting precincts all across the nation have had a difficult time keeping up with the huge influx of new voters. This election promises to be different – not just the choice between the lesser of two evils. But do the American people view it as different this time?
Movies released this year such as “W.” and “Swing Vote” are bringing voting into the forefront of cultural discussion. The unpopularity of incumbent President George Bush is motivating millions of voters to become more active in the political process.
Unfortunately, there are a number of flaws in our election system. Third party candidates don’t have a prayer of winning, and while there is some discernible difference between Republicans and Democrats, most of our everyday lives are not drastically impacted by who occupies the Oval Office.
In many other industrialized countries, smaller political parties have proportional representation in government. In the United States, of course, the Electoral College leaves the decision up to a handful of “swing” states.
I know several students here at TCU who are Texas residents who tell me they think it’s a waste of time to vote in the general election in Texas. Since Texas’ electoral votes haven’t gone to a Democrat since 1976, there’s probably a lot of truth to that.
The two-party system leads to a level of cynicism where people tend to vote for the candidate they disagree with least, rather than the candidate who truly represents their views. In past elections, such as in the 2004 election between the incumbent Bush and Sen. John Kerry, this was particularly true.
While Democrats tend to want to use government to control people’s economic decisions, and Republicans tend to want to use government to suppress people’s civil liberties and control people’s personal and moral choices, libertarian-leaning politicians like Ron Paul who want to do none of the above are rarely even asked to participate in debates.
Would we rather the federal government expand its powers beyond what even the Founding Fathers could have possibly imagined – either in supporting military bases in 130 countries, leading to anti-American sentiment, or in social services, which the Constitution says should be left to the states?
Both options lead to immense levels of government spending, yet politicians on both sides make promises to expand federal powers to placate voters. Do we go into debt to pay for all this spending, or do we raise taxes?
Both options are undesirable choices, yet that is the modern-day difference between Republican and Democrat. It becomes a “lesser of two evils” question in the end. Voters choose the candidate who makes the most convincing campaign promises, regardless of whether they’ll actually be able to keep those promises. Despite the flaws in our nation’s political structure, will voter apathy ever truly be cured?
Matthew Rosson is a sophomore prebusiness major from Lincoln, Neb.