Voter apathy controls election



Campus Times
November 8, 1996


by Christie Reed
Editor in Chief


Well, it is official. The fate of our country once again falls into the hands of Bill Clinton. Or, shall I say, the fate of our country has been placed in the hands of Clinton by a majority of American voters-4,636,877 to be exact.

I am not bitter. It was a pretty sure-fire thing before the ballots were even cast, but my problem lies with the 49 percent of the registered Americans who actually voted Tuesday and the 51 percent who did not.

I can visualize a repeat of history. Upon his first controversial decision, every American who voted for Clinton will look upon that vote with angst and will openly deny they voted for him. The first mistake Clinton makes in his next term will be criticized and the nearly 5 million voters who proudly or reluctantly marked his name on their ballots will go into hiding.

No longer will there be Clinton/Gore signs posted all over the streets, in car windows and in front yards. The hearty nationalism that took this country by storm throughout October will dwindle until it disappears. The presidency will once again become a routine that the American people watch with a temporarily heightened interest.

I give the American people a couple of months before they begin openly criticizing Clinton. I foresee a new line of anti-Clinton bumper stickers that will find there way onto cars all over the United States.

Locally, 99 to 100 percent of the precincts have been calculated and it appears as if some of the more controversial propositions passed with flying colors. Proposition 209, to eliminate preferential treatment on the basis of race, received 4,734,838 votes (54 percent) in favor and 3,983,542 (46 percent) against. The medical use of marijuana, Proposition 215, received 56 percent in favor and 44 percent against. The minimum wage increase, Proposition 210, was favored by 5,376,891 voters (62 percent) and only disliked by 3,341,168 (38 percent).

The problem with these propositions is that (1) they never have to be enforced by our elected officers and (2) many voters do not understand what may result if they are enforced.

This blame is to be placed partly on the American people and partly on the ads that ran for and against these propositions. While many voters failed to research both sides of these measures, the ads only depicted one side. If a voter is in the midst of watching a rerun and he happened upon one of these ads, if that was the only information he received on that proposition, he was not well-informed. As he cast his vote, the image of some guy hooked up to a shock device replays, reminding the voter that Proposition 208, campaign reform, is good because that politician who was hooked up to those wires yelped as the proposition was recited to him.

It was difficult to find any information on propositions that was not slanted or incomprehensible jargon. That left me destined to find some. At least I researched both sides to each proposition, more than I can say for many voters.

Also left buried in the election results is the fact that 51 percent of registered voters did not take the time to cast their ballots Tuesday. With the exception of Hawaii, every state saw a decrease in turnout since the 1992 elections. Voting is a very powerful right, and if one chooses not to state his opinion that is fine, but these slumbering Americans are usually the first to state their opinions after the fact. While they were too busy to cast their ballots, they have all the time in the world to criticize the results and blame them on the stupidity of the Americans.

Aside from the fact that this election resulted in the lowest voter turnout since 1924, those Americans who actually sauntered to the polls need to stick by their guns. If you boasted about Bill Clinton and had a Clinton/Gore bumper sticker in your car, leave it there. Just because he won the election, the big fight is still ahead and he needs the support of the American people. I will give him what little faith I have left in him. With any luck, it will not get any worse.

Christie Reed, a junior journalism major, is editor in chief of the Campus Times. She can be reached by e-mail at reedc@ulvacs.ulaverne.edu.


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