The Coastal Post - December, 1996

Monday Night Football Outpolls Presidential Election

BY STEPHEN SIMAC

The elections are over, with only a few signs left forlornly behind as a reminder. The attack ads have left the airwaves, and America has done its democratic duty once again. Or have we? With the lowest turnout of eligible voters in a presidential election ever, less than half of us even bothering to go to the polls, what's up with the nation?

Some pundits claim it's a positive. After all, before we had unconstitutional means like poll taxes and literacy tests to keep ignorant voters from skewing the count and electing dangerous radicals to office. Now apathy and cynicism do the trick without any challengable tactics.

Some non-voters claim they stay away because they "don't want to encourage the bastards." News flash: Politicians are self-motivated, needing no encouragement other than campaign funding to run, and as Ross Perot and Ariana Huffington showed in '92, if you're rich enough, no one else has to pay.

Besides, as Ralph Nader proved in '96, a half-assed presidential campaign can be run on less than $5,000. He still outpolled bob Dole and Ross Perot, at least in West Marin. And he spent less than either of our local candidates for county supervisor.

Americans vote every day, if campaigns are all about money. We make political choices with every dollar slipping through our hands, by what we watch on TV and where we shop. If anything, we got exactly what we wanted in this election. At least the majority who went to the polls and probably the majority of those who didn't.

Bill Clinton and his team of advisers began polling potential voters two years ago on what their major concerns were. With that list in hand, they passed largely symbolic measures for most of them, proving the power of symbol to sway opinions as Bill's figures began to climb. Even his womanizing made him seem virile.

Dick Morris and his boys then began testing possible ads in malls and running the ones they got good response from a year before the election, beginning with the Republican's Medicare. Let's face it: Bob Dole and Newt Gingrich are never going to come across as compassionate. Compassion and family issues were the big sellers in this election. Crime, drugs and even terrorism weren't as hot as they used to be.

Polls can be cooked, but apparently Morris' sex scandal wasn't of any concern to voters; presumably they expect campaign advisors to be sleazy.

Maybe the non-voters are right. If those who vote are so easily and willingly led along a bridge into the 21st Century, then perhaps the best defense against political propaganda is to opt out. Of course, they could develop opinions through careful research and political awareness, but it might take away from sports viewership. It's true that very few things in politics are as awe-inspiring as a perfectly thrown touchdown, yet it's odd that a man can tell you about ratio of fourth-down conversions, and claim politics is too boring.

It would seem like when 51 percent don't just do it, they could also choose to vote for another party than Republicrats and really upset the system. They were available. Behind the Coca and Pepsi parties, were the Reform, the Libertarian, the Greens, the Natural Law, and Dr. Pepper. Americans supposedly love the choice, so why don't we use it?

All that polling and they never ask why people don't know, don't care, don't vote. All I know is I'm half Irish, and we're like Jews, WASPs, Cubans and old people: we always vote. We know it works-that's how we corrupted New York City, San Francisco, Miami and Chicago. Blacks, Latinos, those under 40 are less likely to vote and so less likely to get in on the looting of the treasury.

It doesn't take much research to figure out your own self-interest and vote for those candidates and propositions that represent them. Voting could be made easier by making election day a national holiday, and making it possible for homeless citizens to register to vote, but in the end, if people want to complain, they should vote.

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