Sunday, October 24, 2004

Endorsements - Do they matter? We'll get what we deserve, either because of ignorance or apathy

I have no idea what weight any newspaper's endorsements for one candidate or another carry, but TalkLeft has this post on a few interesting Kerry endorsements.

First, The Des Moines Register, in a state that is a "must win" for Bush.
Yes, Kerry is liberal. But what's to fear from a liberal president? That he would run big deficits? That he would increase federal spending? That he would expand the power of the federal government over individuals' lives? Nothing Kerry could do could top what President Bush has already done in those realms.
Next, a Kerry endorsement from the Orlando Sentinel, which endorsed Bush in 2000. This is important because, as TalkLeft reports, "it is in the Tampa Bay/Orlando corridor which is critical to determining Florida's outcome."
This president has utterly failed to fulfill our expectations. We turn now to his Democratic challenger, Sen. John Kerry, with the belief that he is more likely to meet the hopes we once held for Mr. Bush.

Our choice was not dictated by partisanship. Already this election season, the Sentinel has endorsed Republican Mel Martinez for the U.S. Senate and four U.S. House Republicans. In 2002, we backed Republican Gov. Jeb Bush for re-election, repeating our endorsement of four years earlier. Indeed, it has been 40 years since the Sentinel endorsed a Democrat -- Lyndon Johnson -- for president.
As I wonder at the significance -if any- of these endorsements (you can find a running tally of endorsements here), I cannot help but refer you to an op-ed by Jeff Jacoby in today's Boston Globe on the The ignorant American voter. It discusses how little the average American actually knows of the issues, the candidates, and of their government in general, and cites to a number of studies done over the years that support this. So you have many going to vote who are actually voting without any real knowledge of what their vote means, and you have so many others that do not even bother to vote. If Americans only realized how much of their cherished freedom and democracy was riding on their ignorance and apathy, perhaps they would bother to learn and go vote.

So what sort of a mandate does the winner of a presidential election in which so many do not even bother to show up to vote have, when so many of even those that bother to show up don't really know what they're voting for? The answer is simple: he has the mandate that we in our ignorance and apathy have chosen to let him have. It's a sad thing to view American politics descend to stupid attack ads, distortions, and soundbites. But we cannot say we have not asked for it by our willful blindness.