With Clinton leading Dole by as much as 20 points just two weeks before Election Day and Ross Perot a pale shadow of his folksy chart-reading 1992 persona, many people don't see the point in voting
(AR) NEW YORK -- If the low TV ratings for this year's presidential debates are any indication, a record number of Americans aren't bothering to gather the facts to help them cast an informed vote.
This is probably because they don't intend to vote. Don't be surprised if, for the first time in decades, the turnout for this election plunges below 50 percent.
Public opinion polls have accurately predicated the outcome of every presidential election since 1948. With Clinton leading Dole by as much as 20 points just two weeks before Election Day and Ross Perot a pale shadow of his folksy chart-reading 1992 persona, many people don't see the point in voting.
Democrats know Clinton is a shoo-in and doesn't need their help. Republicans, having given up the ghost of Ronald Reagan, are already printing up "Kemp in 2000" signs. But the truth is, there's so much at stake, and so much to choose from, in this election that the electorate can't afford to spend the evening of November 5 watching "Baywatch."
Like what? Here's an unbiased, bipartisan look at like what: Abortion: This fall's choice between the Democratic and Republican parties will determine the shape of the Supreme Court, which is solely in charge of deciding whether or not women can have abortions. One more anti-choice vote on the court will mean the end of Roe v. Wade. The next vacancy will occur in August 1998, when some liberal FDR appointee will kick off. If reelected, President Clinton will undoubtedly fill that spot with a moderate Republican in order to appease the right wing of his party. Ex-Senator Bob Dole, on the other hand, is running on a pro-life platform that he has refused to endorse, in a blatant appeal to Reagan Democrats. Look for him to appoint a moderate Republican much like himself.
Immigration: Today's Americans have decided that they deserve to be the country's final newcomers. Determining entry quotas and benefits available to those from other countries will shape the look and fashion sense of the nation in the next century, so each candidate's position on immigration is vitally important. Where Dole would reduce legal entries and cut back benefits to both resident and illegal aliens, Clinton would instead slash benefits payable to all kinds of immigrants, whether legal or not, and slow new entrants to a trickle.
Tax Cuts: Bob Dole has proposed a 15 percent across-the-board reduction in the federal income tax, which would save the typical American family about $500 per adult taxpayer, enough to fund a pack-a-day habit for a year. The GOP claims that increased consumer spending generated by the additional money will more than offset the loss in government revenues. Clinton, on the other hand, is offering a tax cut for each child. That works out to approximately $500 per adult taxpayer, enough to buy a new DAT player. The Clinton plan assumes that the Great Pumpkin will appear on Halloween night and disburse the lost taxes to the federal treasury.
Free Trade: Since NAFTA was passed in 1994, the American economy has bled a net amount of over 300,000 jobs to Mexico. President Bill Clinton fought hard for NAFTA, dismissing labor union critics of free trade and denying the possibility of any job loss. On the other side of the ideological spectrum, Republican candidate Bob Dole explicitly endorsed it and worked for its passage in the Senate to appease his corporate allies.
Welfare Reform: The two candidates offer very different views of poor Americans. Clinton's "New Democrats" hold impoverished Americans responsible for improving their own lots in life. Under their plan, welfare will be eliminated within five years, but no government job programs will be created to place recipients. As for the other option, Dole's Republicans, wrote the bill that Clinton signed but accepted some Democratic revisions. Basically, though, it was a Republican bill.
Education: Bob Dole favors maintaining the current system of student loans to fund college tuition. Bill Clinton claims that he would make tuition tax-deductible up to $10,000 in his second term. Yet he never did it during his first term. Look for the old student loan system to continue under Clinton II, but more so.
Foreign Policy: As president, Clinton continued George Bush's policy of bombing the crap out of ex-CIA employee Saddam Hussein without actually hitting his house. A Dole presidency would probably seek an accommodation with the Iraqi dictator that involved continuing the current strategy, but with more political cartoons of Hussein with that skull on his black beret appearing in Newsweek.
If you've read this far, you now have all the facts you need to make an intelligent, informed decision about our nation's future without having to read an editorial or watching any of the debates. I can't tell you how to vote, but I can tell you that, whether it's four of one or a third of a dozen of the other, it's your choice, and nobody can take that away from you. Use it wisely.