Tuesday, January 29, 2008

Vote!

Updated: Utah's primary day is Feb. 5, not Feb. 12. Corrected below.

Update 2: It's been brought to my attention that Obama has now opened a third Utah office. He now has offices in Salt Lake, St. George, and Park City! Also, his planned second visit to Utah on Saturday has been canceled, out of deference to President Hinckley's memorial service. (He called President Monson to offer his condolences.) That shows a lot of respect, if you ask me! (And now his wife, Michelle, who is just as awesome as he is, will be coming to Utah on Monday!!)

I'm sorry. I know a lot of people are bored by blogs like this, but this is my blog, and it's what I really, really care about, so indulge me a little.

I want to use this blog right now to encourage you all to do something you don't usually think to do in January/February: vote. I'm sure you've heard; we're in the middle of a presidential primary campaign, and while most everyone I know makes the effort to vote during general elections - especially presidential elections - people are often indifferent to voting in primaries. I'm here to tell you that that's sort of backward.

In a country whose politics are dominated by the two parties, partisan primaries are a very important part of the process. Out of the 16 candidates currently running in the two primaries, one will be president; but first, that field will be narrowed to two. Because primaries typically have smaller turnouts, the people who do vote have a larger influence on the outcome than they would in a general election. Also, unlike a general presidential election, there is no Electoral College, so your vote counts much more directly. Also, people often complain during elections that they're not happy with the two choices they have; those people should be in a big hurry to vote in an election where they essentially have 16 people to choose from.

To find out details about your primary election, just hit Google. I would suggest searching for the name of your city/county/state and the word election. (i.e., "Salt Lake County election." Elections in Utah are typically run by the counties.) The top result should be your local clerk's office, board of elections, or whoever runs your elections. Go there and navigate. You should be able to find out whether you're registered to vote, what party you're registered with, where you vote (usually it will be your normal polling place), when your primary is, etc.

The rest of this blog is targeted specifically at my readers in Utah, but the rest of you should keep reading, too. :) I am writing to Utahns for a couple of reasons. First, I know the way the system there works, so it's easier for me to explain. Second, my hometown pride makes me really want to see a big turnout in Utah. This year's primaries have seen much, much higher turnout than previous primaries, and I would hate for Utah not to match that level of interest. And I could see it happening, because so many people assume that Mitt Romney has Utah in the bag so they won't bother voting. So go vote. Utahns vote Feb. 5 - the first time in my life (and, as far as I know, the first time ever) that Utah has been part of Super Tuesday - a big deal in a historic election year that you shouldn't miss out on!

Now, if you are a voter in Utah, statistically speaking, chances are pretty good that you are an unaffiliated voter. That means you are not officially registered as a Democrat, a Republican, or a member of the Constitution Party. Something like two-thirds of Utah voters are unaffiliated. If you are one of those people, let me suggest something that you may have never considered doing in your life: Vote in the Democratic primary.

Bear with me. I have a few good reasons.

First, it's your only option. Because of party rules, Utah's Republican primary is a closed primary, while the Democratic primary is open. That means that to vote in the Republican primary, you must be registered as a Republican, but to vote in the Democratic primary, you can be registered as a Democrat or you can be unaffiliated. And it's too late to change your affiliation for the primary, so if you don't vote in the Democratic primary, you can't vote at all (until November).

Now I know that many of you have rarely or never voted for a Democrat before, and you don't really want to start now. That's OK! You can vote in the Democratic primary now and then vote for the Republican candidate in the fall. You shouldn't pass up on your chance to have your voice heard in determining the candidates seeking the most important job in the world.

But there's another important reason for you to vote in the Democratic primary: Hillary Clinton. Come on, do you really want Hillary to be the next president? Do you really want Bill Clinton to have what essentially amounts to a third term? I don't even want that, and I'm a Democrat!

More important than that, do you want to spend the next nine months mired in a campaign that involves the Clintons? Do you want to continue the divisive, red-state-vs.-blue-state hatefulness that has filled politics recently? That kind of politics has been the fault of both sides, and having a Clinton in the race is only going to make both sides gear up for a really ugly fight. The kind of fight that our country really, really doesn't need.

I would really encourage you to consider voting for Barack Obama. You may or may not have been paying attention to this primary season, but if you have been, I'm sure you've noticed the dramatically different campaign style between Obama and the Clintons. Obama really, truly knows how to disagree with someone respectfully. He has the ability to inspire all Americans, to rally us behind our common values and the common purpose we all share. He has adamant support of prominent Democrats, Republicans and independents, liberals, moderates and conservatives. Honestly. I have read op-eds, blogs, news pieces, etc. from some of the most conservative people out there who say that in the most important ways - temperament, attitude, decision-making style - he is the first true conservative in presidential politics in a long time. (Yes, in terms of policy, he is fairly liberal, but he's a Democrat, so he's supposed to be.)

Barack has two campaign offices in Utah. Hillary has none. Barack has been to Utah once to campaign and will be back again this week. Hillary has not come. She is sending Chelsea! This kind of attention to Utah, and to all the "little" states that have few delegates and little national prominence, may not be the most effective strategy politically, but it illustrates a candidacy that views America as a whole, where every state deserves attention.

Anyway, this has run a lot longer than I intended it to. But please consider what I have said. I have never been so passionate about an election in my life - and I am pretty passionate about politics. Even if you don't plan to vote for Obama, please vote anyway. Make sure that this year, when our country is so divided and so many people feel frustrated, you take your right to vote seriously, and you vote for the candidate that you really believe will lead this country - all of us - with integrity.

6 comments:

amelia said...

Doug! Super Tuesday is Feb. 5! And happy news...Barack just opened a THIRD office in Utah! Now he has one in SLC, St. George and Park City. You know I love the man :) A "Vote for Barack please!" post is due on my blog soon.

doug said...

Thanks for noting that, Amelia. A friend made the same comment on my MySpace post. My bad. D.C. votes Feb. 12, so that's the date in my mind. anyway, thanks thanks thanks for catching that! It's been fixed.

Randy said...

You're wrong, Doug, if you are unaffiliated then you can easily vote on the R primary, but the R party does require that you affiliate at the time you vote. You devoted a lot of words to the idea that it's too late for unaffiliated voters to choose which primary to vote in; you probably should get the facts straight before wasting all those words.

doug said...

That's true, Randy. Thanks for pointing it out. It was just an oversight, a misreading of the fact that it's too late to change registration from one party to another.

But my overall point stands: If you don't want to change your unaffiliated status, or if you are disinterested in voting the GOP primary because of Romney's clear advantage in Utah, I think a vote for Obama is a good alternative, and it's one I wanted to point out because many people may not have considered voting in the Democratic primary.

Jacelle said...

Here here!!!

Brian said...

Vote for Oprah!!