I know that so far two of my three columns this semester have held political themes, but I feel that not enough of the people eligible to vote in this country expend the necessary effort to do so.
Once again, I have found myself writing about political happenings in an attempt to encourage others to vote.
With the aforementioned lack of voter enthusiasm in mind, one would think that those with political aspirations would jump at the chance to speak to a captive audience that is likely to vote.
What I am referring to is the offer made to Al Gore and George W. Bush by World Wrestling Federation owner Vince McMahon to give them time on his nationally broadcast Thursday night show Smack Down.
The time he offered would allow them to debate in a public forum that reaches millions of households and eligible voters each week. The debate, if it were to occur, would be moderated by Minnesota Gov. Jesse Ventura.
The Smack Down Challenge began on Aug. 30 as a joint project between WWF Entertainment, Youth Vote 2000, MTV’s Choose or Lose and Project Vote Smart. In its first week, more than 8,400 voters signed petitions calling for the candidates to give time to younger voters who often feel left out of the political system.
So far, no one has accepted this offer and I want to pose the question as to why they have ignored this opportunity to reach so many voters.
Earlier this year, the WWF began a voter registration drive program called Smack Down Your Vote. Already this year, the Smack Down promotion has registered more than 120,000 voters through an online site, at WWF live events and at WWF New York, a site-based entertainment complex in Times Square.
Many studies have been done over the years to determine who is most likely to vote. Things such as levels of education and income are factors, as well as things like political affiliation.
But, in the midst of all these things likely to encourage someone to make it to the polls in November, the studies have included the bloc of newly-registered voters. Yes folks, people who have just recently registered to vote are more likely to do so in the first election after they register.
So basically Bush and Gore are turning down an opportunity to speak in front of more than 110,000 WWF viewers who are more likely to go out and vote this year than are the Americans whom they hope to reach with their mudslinging ad campaigns.
Actually they are doing something worse than turning down the opportunity, they are ignoring it.
What message does this send to voters in this country? I will tell you what it says. It states that those running for office, or more specifically the people running their campaigns, would rather waste time slinging mud and innuendos around than actually sitting down to discuss and debate issues.
Forgive me if I am overreacting, but that insults my intelligence.
It says to me that campaign managers think that I am not smart enough to understand real issues and then decide for myself which of the candidates I feel is best for the job.
It says to me that people in power think that I want to see scandal and name-calling rather than serious consideration of the things that affect my life such as the current federal budget surplus or welfare reform.
It is this kind of action from those inside the political process that creates apathy among voters.
If young or new voters are not made to feel welcome and a part of the process, of course they are not going to vote. That is why so few young people register to vote when they become of legal age.
They feel like outsiders because no one on the inside has ever taken the time to sit down and find out what issues are of concern to them.If politicians want to see voter turnout, then they should get down off their high horses and take a few minutes to reach out to the people who feel ostracized by the system.
Reach out to new voters and draw them in, for if you do, they may just make voting a habit, and isn’t that what you want after all?