Gov. Gretchen Whitmer addressed the State of Michigan after a plan to kidnap her and other Michigan government officials was thwarted by state and federal law enforcement agencies. She started by saying thank you to law enforcement and FBI agents who participated in stopping this [...]
By Eric W. Rader
Mitt Romney has certainly had a bad month. Over the course of the last few weeks, the Republican presidential nominee has made a series of political gaffes and misstatements. Last week came more bad news for the Republican candidate when a May video recording surfaced, revealing Romney’s comments to a group of wealthy GOP donors, that he doesn’t really care about the 47 percent of Americans who don’t pay federal income taxes in this country, ignoring the fact that many of these people pay a lot of other taxes. Since the end of the Democratic Convention a few weeks ago, President Barack Obama has enjoyed a small but significant lead over former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney in national surveys and in the key swing states that will likely decide this election. Many supporters of the president feel confident that he will win reelection. However, it’s critical that people who want the president to win not take this election for granted. Recent history shows that candidates who are behind in the polls can still come back and win the election. Public opinions surveys in the 21st Century are remarkably reliable in measuring the current state of voter preferences within a specified margin of error. However, there is still plenty of time for people to change their minds or for outside events to alter the dynamics of the presidential and other political races.
More important than the issue of polling is voter turnout. While polls may tell us who people intend to vote for in the election, the only people who truly matter in determining the outcome of a political race are the ones who actually go to the polls on Election Day and cast a ballot. Republicans typically have a strong advantage in voter turnout, with large numbers of GOP voters heading to the polls every year regardless of who’s running or what the issues are. One troubling development for Democrats in 2012 is the passage of voter identification laws in a number of states. While these laws purport to be efforts to curb voter fraud, the reality is that very little actual fraud occurs in American elections. The real reason for these laws is to limit turnout by voters who are most likely to vote Democratic, including working class and minority citizens.
Ultimately, each person must decide whether to vote on Election Day. It’s important to remember what happens when progressive people don’t vote. Two years ago, many Democrats stayed home during the midterm elections. As a result, Republicans gained control of the House and nearly won the Senate, while Michigan and many other states elected Republican governors. Following the election, the Republican House brought the United States to a near default on its debt when it refused to go along with a routine vote to raise the nation’s debt ceiling. In the states, Republican governors and legislators passed extraordinarily restrictive and intrusive anti-abortion laws and made other efforts to limit the ability of women to access vital family planning services. Here in Michigan, the legislature and Gov. Snyder eliminated the ability of local governments and most public institutions to offer domestic partner benefits to public employees.
The stakes in this year’s elections are high. Over the course of this campaign, Mitt Romney has demonstrated time and again that he doesn’t care about most average citizens, as evidenced by the comments revealed last week, and we in the LGBT community should remember that we’re certainly not part of his constituency. President Obama has achieved significant positive results for this country, and the LGBT community especially has many reasons to cheer the president’s accomplishments in the area of civil rights. If people who support these achievements don’t vote in November, new officeholders will come to office next January who don’t believe these advances are good and who will seek to reverse them. No voter should relax and become too confident about the outcome of this year’s election. Every progressive voter has an obligation to head to the polls on Nov. 6. Recent history is evidence of the significance of elections and we would all do well to learn the lessons of the last few elections–our future depends on it.
Michigan Voter Information Center–Provides information on polling location and the fall ballot to registered voters:
Download a form to register to vote–deadline for this year’s election is October 9, 2012: