Continuing their remarkable streak of
inanity for a 21st straight year, The Michigan Review came out
against the recent “endless obsession with voting” and
complained that the phenomenon “is not helping
Democracy.”

Joel Hoard

Only the Review could find a negative in urging apathetic
Americans to exercise their most fundamental of rights. They claim
that in the rush to register as many previously apathetic voters as
possible, we are creating a mass of uneducated and under-informed
voters. Apparently if you don’t watch at least 20 hours of
Fox News a week or read The Wall Street Journal every morning, your
vote shouldn’t count. Maybe it’s time we bring back
poll taxes and literacy tests, too, just to make sure certain
unsavory groups aren’t allowed to vote this year. Let’s
just spit on the Constitution some more.

What we really should be looking at in this election is the
reasoning behind our votes. It’s one of the sad truths in the
modern American democracy that we vote for all the wrong reasons.
But it’s not because of a lack of education or concern, as
The Michigan Review suggests. The real problem is the complete lack
of progressive, independent thinkers as candidates. Can you really
blame people for not caring?

Now I considered myself well-educated, informed and concerned,
but my reason for supporting John Kerry isn’t a good one. In
fact, it’s a pretty bad reason: I’m voting out of
spite. It’s not something I’m very proud of. I
don’t particularly like Kerry or think he’ll make a
very good president, and chances are he’ll only be a
one-termer. Like so many millions of other disillusioned Americans,
I hate George W. Bush so much for the evil he has perpetrated in
the last four years that I’m voting for his opponent just to
stick it to him. You better believe when I pound on the Kerry
button on my Optech voting machine next month, I’ll do it
with a sneer on my face.

There are plenty of other bad reasons to vote for one candidate
or another, and it’s certainly nothing new in 2004. In 2000,
we had people voting against Al Gore because his running mate was
Jewish and his former boss got a blow job under a desk and lied
about it. Others voted against Bush because he couldn’t
pronounce “nuclear” and read at a fourth-grade level.
This year, some of us are basing our decisions on our blind
allegiances to our respective parties, others on what Bill
O’Reilly or Michael Moore told us we should do and still
others on our archaic political beliefs. They’re all terrible
reasons when you get down to it. The only thing that separates us
anybody-but-Bush people from the rest of the populace is that
we’re willing to admit that we’re voting for Kerry for
all the wrong reasons.

Personally, I find the most frustrating group of voters this
year to be the values voters, those who could care less about the
much more important issues of Iraq, the faltering economy and
America’s tarnished image worldwide. Instead, they focus on
such issues as abortion and gay marriage, as if those are somehow
the most important obstacles standing in the way of American
greatness. We see this type of logic at its worst in the heartland
states, which without fail will cast their votes for Bush this
year. Even though Bush’s economic policies heavily favor the
rich, the poor heartland voters will continue to support him. The
reason, of course, is that Bush’s values are more in line
with their own. They would much rather see their children growing
up in poverty and attending fourth-rate schools, so long as women
can’t get abortions and gay people can’t get
married.

Something needs to come along and shock the system, to breathe
new life into our nation. We need to be reminded why we were
instilled with the right to vote in the first place. The solution
isn’t Kerry, and it certainly isn’t Bush. Maybe
it’ll take some cataclysmic event, or maybe some heroic third
party candidate will emerge to completely undermine the two-party
system. Whatever it is, let’s hope it comes soon.

Hoard can be reached at
“mailto:j.ho@umich.edu”>j.ho@umich.edu.

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