In theory, America would be a better nation if each and every American citizen age 18 and older and otherwise qualified to vote would register and then actually vote on election day. But, in practice, it can be said that some voters are more knowledgeable about the facts, the issues, and the nature of the candidates than other voters.
If we assume knowledge is good and ignorance is bad, we are left with the hope that those who bother to be informed about the issues and the candidates will turn out to vote (or, vote by absentee ballot) and the politically uninformed will stay home on election day.
In other words, a representative democracy can become divided between citizens who participate in the political process and all those citizens who pretty much dismiss what is going on in the world around them and simply live with the consequences of political decisions made by others. Thus, in a free country, one is, well, free to do as one wants - provided one does no harm to others and does not scare the horses. This is in contrast to totalitarian political systems where the masses are forced to the polls and ordered to vote for the candidates of the current totalitarian regime.
The cynics say your vote doesn't count and that a single vote will not determine the outcome of a particular election one way or another. The cynics are wrong. In perhaps the current presidential election more than any previous election each vote counts because this particular election finds America at a crossroads.
As a nation, we are either going to embrace the creeping socialism of the last four years or we are going to return to our more traditional free-enterprise system. Indisputably, on this coming election day, we find our nation seriously divided in a grid-locked economic morass, and over $16 trillion dollars in debt. Which presidential candidate can pull our nation back together again and get our economy moving forward? On November 6, 2012, that is the question.
Because of the Electoral College, a presidential election is not one nationwide popular-vote election. It is actually 50 state elections plus the District of Columbia for a total of 51 separate elections. With the exception of Nebraska and Maine, which proportion out their Electoral College votes using the Congressional District Method, the other 49 elections are winner-take-all-elections, meaning whoever gets a plurality of the votes wins all of that state's Electoral College votes.
Therefore, in a winner-take-all-state, your one vote might be the one vote that sweeps all of your state's Electoral College votes to your favorite presidential candidate and provides him the 270 Electoral College votes he needs to win the presidential election. Conversely, your failure to cast your ballot might mean that all of your state's Electoral College votes hand the presidential election to someone whose politics you abhor and who will be nominating several new U.S. Supreme Justices who will be the de facto rulers of America for many decades far, far into the 21st Century. That scary thought alone should produce a record turnout on November 6,.
Nationally syndicated columnist, William Hamilton, was educated at the University of Oklahoma, the George Washington University, the U.S Naval War College, the University of Nebraska, and Harvard University.
©2012. William Hamilton.