ROSE NOLEN: Electoral process, political parties have left voters confused

Tuesday, May 8, 2012 | 6:00 a.m. CDT

When Election Day comes around this year, many people will go to the polls just as they always do, uninspired, confused and frightened. All of their lives they have been told it is their duty as a citizen to go to the polls and vote. Who they will vote for, and why, is a matter that remains unsettled in their minds. They will simply vote.

Some people don't have a clue how to decide who to vote for. Watching the candidates on television hasn’t helped them at all. Multiple television ads claiming all kinds of things have only added to the confusion. The daily newspaper — often their best information source — is usually ignored. For the most part, many people just want to get it over with, so they can get back to their lives.

People who have been out of work for a long time and those who have been turned out of their homes have given up hope. What was the American dream, for them, has developed into a nightmare. Daily life has become a challenge to find the food they need to eat and the bed they need to sleep on. For those who can easily meet their needs and have no agenda, to vote or not to vote is still the question.

The electoral process is more confusing this year than it has been in the past. The Supreme Court ruling that has allowed Super PACs, supposedly unconnected to the candidates to spend billions of dollars for campaign advertisements, has merely muddied the field. The efforts by some political parties to pass voter registration laws, which will require some people to provide various forms of personal identification in order to vote, is troublesome and will undoubtedly cause some to avoid going to the polls. It has occurred to many that the political parties no longer want individual citizens to vote, unless they are willing to vote their way. Until we have an independent authority to interpret law, we are without recourse.

The political parties are completely out of hand. It seems to be impossible to establish a third party, although Ron Paul seems to be on a good road toward accomplishing that goal. Perhaps if he succeeds, then others will be persuaded to try to get on that road. Some of the founders tried to keep us from falling into this difficulty, but, of course, people will be people. If we continue on this path, it is difficult to say what kind of government we will ultimately inspire.

Considering the systems of government that we have seen as working examples, I personally prefer a democratic republic. I would prefer that those who disagree would find themselves another country to try it on. With the two-party system determining how we live our lives, I suppose we have gone as far as we can go without falling into great difficulty.

I sincerely hope that more people will wake up and see the direction we are heading. Eventually, those of us who are unwilling to go wherever these people are going will have to stand up and be counted. Freedom can be a dangerous thing in the hands of the wrong people. Fortunately, the founders created laws meant to deter those who wish to destroy this democracy, and it is our job as citizens of this republic to see that they are enforced.

Every now and then, someone gets this great idea that they can improve on the original model. It is, in fact, a very bad idea.

Think about it.

You can join the conversation with Rose M. Nolen by calling her at 882-5734 or emailing her at Questions? Contact opinion editor Elizabeth Conner.

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Mark Foecking May 9, 2012 | 12:02 p.m.

"For the most part, many people just want to get it over with, so they can get back to their lives."

I agree. Most people don't care about the working of government, or issues. They'll respond emotionally to an op/ed rather than taking the time to fact check or put something in perspective. Plus, life is just too much fun these days to worry about educating oneself on issues.

If being a good informed citizen is too much like work, then we get the government we deserve.


(Report Comment)
Paige Read May 9, 2012 | 12:33 p.m.

As a political science student, this article states the problem with voters: they are lazy and uninterested. Third parties cannot emerge without support, and with voter turnout at an all-time low --15% in congressional elections (the numbers for those who actually petition, campaign, etc are EVEN LOWER), there will not be a third party because there is no support.
As for the current parties-- they evolve and change due to popular support, but only for those who vote. Voter turnout is around 65-70% for presidential elections. If you really want to complain about your government, be the 15% who vote for Congress, they are the people who pass legislation, NOT THE PRESIDENT. If you're confused about a candidate's stance, good news, most of them have all of their information readily available on their website, which will probably come up if you google them.

(Report Comment)
Ellis Smith May 9, 2012 | 12:35 p.m.

@ Mark Foecking:

As French Comte de Maistre put it 201 years ago, "Taute nation a le gouvernement qu'elle merite."

Some of our friends who bitch strenuously and often about how awful things are in the United States today may live long enough to get the government THEY DESERVE - and if that happens I suspect more than a few of them won't be happy with the result. (In part that will be because they will never be happy - period.)

Not much chance that either Rose or I will be around.

(Report Comment)
David Rosman May 9, 2012 | 1:47 p.m.

Good column Rose and I certainly agree with you.

Last weekend, nearly 70 percent of all eligible voters in France took to the polls to elect a new President. The US is lucky to see 25 percent. It also appears that the ones who do not vote are screaming the loudest.

We tend to vote against a candidate than for. We place impossible expectations on the candidates, elected officials and government to make instant corrections or to correct at all. We see government as ineffectual because they are not doing what "I" want.

We hear about the stupidity of the federal and state legislatures of screwing around. And while extremists on one side is convincing others that being humane is somehow unpatriotic, the other side is convincing others that being frugal with citizens' tax dollars is un-American. We have lost the middle ground.

Your observation is right, but Rose, what is the solution?

(Report Comment)

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