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Monday, May 26, 2008


If you watch American Idol (I don’t), you know that the voting that crowned David Cook the current “Idol” was a record 97.5 million votes cast. Of that, 82,875,000 were age 18 and over. I will get into some other interesting age demographics later. But this is a commendable accomplishment for an event that is entertainment only, and which has no real bearing on the future of this country. Or does it?

In the 2004 Presidential election, 64 percent of the 197 million citizens age 18 and older (126 million) voted. But of the 72 percent that took the time to register (142 million), 89 percent indicated they voted. Big difference in those percentages, proving that to get out the vote, you have to get people to register first. Duh! Independents totaled 26 percent of the voting population; Democrats and Republicans were 37 percent each. So what’s the problem, you say? Looks like the apathetic way American voters have always approached their elections, and that, I tell you, is the problem.

Here are the statistics to prove it. The 97.5 million Idol votes in 2008 were 23.5 million more (31.8%) than the 74 million in 2007, when another very popular contestant by the name of Jordin Sparks won. Now compare that with Presidential voting in 2000, where the turnout was 60 percent, only increasing to 64 percent in 2004, an increase of only 6.7 percent. Keep in mind that in both 2000 and 2004, there were critical issues at stake to this country, and concerned Americans should have rushed to the polls in droves. But they didn’t. So they ended up getting what they deserved.

Back to my earlier point reflecting on how American Idol mirrors the pitiful state in which this country finds itself. Don’t get me wrong; I am not blaming the TV show for the state of our affairs. That’s our own doing. What I am saying is that if the American public can become so focused on a purely entertainment media event, why can’t we use this same enthusiasm in exercising our right to vote? The answer is that Idol provides release, and Presidential elections only give us decisions to make that will determine how the country is run. And of course they are tough decisions, but if you want to be a voice in the political process, you had damn well better get to the polls in Noverber.

Here are the demos promised earlier: Of the American Idol votes in 2008, 84 percent were age 18 and over; 34 percent were 50 plus; 11 percent 65 plus. The 25 to 49 age group was largest at 43 percent. Don’t know what you were thinking, but that blows me away. I had visualized the demographics as pre-teen to around age 35, but not 63 percent of the Idol voters over age 35.

This tells me that a TV show like American Idol can capture a large percentage of the public’s attention, drive them to the polls to record their votes, increase participation in subsequent years, while duplicating the same event on an annual basis. And it is this statement in comparison to Americans’ presidential voting habits that is a sad commentary on our values.

The answer has not been found in the two-party system we have today. Republicans have doomed the ethics of the voting system to a number of years necessary to repair itself. But Democrats have allowed them to do it, and have offered nothing as a fix.

If you recall earlier, Independents now represent 27 percent of the voting public, and growing by the day. If you want to help restore this country to a representation of the people over big business and lobbyists, take a look at the Independent movement as a possibility. I am convinced it is the only answer to renewed protection of our names and personal data, and the privacy of this country’s citizens in general. Check out the Web site for Independents: Committee for a Unified Independent Party (CUIP). I did and found a home as an Independent.

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