Midterm elections are the bastard stepchild of American politics. Too often forgotten by voters between the spectacle of a presidential election, voter turnout is usually low and many citizens are uncertain of the candidates’ positions. Despite this chronic indifference, midterm elections have had historical importance serving as a bellwether of the nation’s government. Historians and pundits have analyzed midterm elections as symbolic indicators of the nation’s status.

Today, Americans will go to the polls in an election that carries as much significance as the 1994 elections that ushered in the Gingrich Revolution. Michigan features one of the most closely watched elections in the nation, as Attorney General Jennifer Granholm and Lt. Gov. Dick Posthumus battle for the governorship in a race that will establish the future direction of Michigan politics. Twelve years of Gov. Engler’s leadership have helped to create a Michigan shaped by division and stringent disagreement. Voters should travel to the polls en masse to proactively display their sentiments on the condition of Michigan politics.

A New York Times/CBS News poll found that 50 percent of polled individuals intend to treat their local elections as a referendum on President Bush’s performance in office. The 50 percent is a dramatically higher figure than similar polls found in either the 1990 or 1998 elections. With this election likely to serve as a popular mandate on the Bush administration’s policies, it is essential for Michigan residents to recognize that the effect of their votes will echo far beyond the state. This is an election of high stakes that will help shape the 2004 presidential election.

A democratic state is dependent on the participation and involvement of its citizenry. Without this active awareness, democratic apparatuses lose their vitality and relevance. Even without the excitement of a presidential election, it is essential that a trip to the polls is part of all eligible voters’ schedules today.

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