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Wednesday, Oct. 31, 2012

Election 2012: Your Vote Matters

Make your voice heard in the Nov. 6 elections

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Wisconsin is blessed and cursed to be a swing state.

The campaigns and outside groups have been spending millions of dollars on attack ads, robocalls, get-out-the-vote efforts and campaign literature in an attempt to win the state’s 10 votes in the Electoral College.

It’s easy to argue that either candidate—President Barack Obama or former Gov. Mitt Romney—will have a difficult time winning the election without winning Wisconsin.

But after the heavy political drama that swept Wisconsin in 2011 and earlier this year, it’s easy to feel politically burned out and wonder why voting matters at all.

But make no mistake. Your vote matters.

Out-of-state billionaires can spend unlimited amounts of money on political ads in Wisconsin. But they cannot vote here. You can. All of that money is to win your precious vote.

Only Wisconsin citizens can decide our fate.

It may feel that one vote doesn’t matter at all, when compared to the millions of votes that will be cast across the country next week. 

To that we say, remember just 12 years ago and the very questionable 2000 election? The difference between George W. Bush and Al Gore came down to 537 votes out of the 5.9 million votes cast in Florida, the margin by which Bush beat Gore when the U.S. Supreme Court halted the recount and handed the White House to the Republican from Texas.

Think about that. If just a few hundred more people had voted for Gore, there would have been no invasion of Iraq, no budget-busting tax cuts for millionaires and billionaires, no waterboarding, no strained relationships with our allies in Europe and many other parts of the world, and no Dick Cheney secretly in charge. Who knows? Unlike Bush, perhaps President Gore would have listened to the intelligence community and actually heeded its warnings about Osama bin Laden’s determination to strike in the U.S. and perhaps would have found a way to foil the 9/11 attack.

That’s how much your single vote matters.

You may think that there’s no real difference between Obama and Romney or between the two major parties.

We respectfully disagree.

Democrats and Republicans have wildly different worldviews, as we’ll explain throughout the Shepherd’s news section this week, and Obama and Romney are vastly different people with contrasting goals for their presidency and our country’s future.

Barack Obama believes that the government has a legitimate role to play in the economy and as a protector of basic freedoms, like a woman’s freedom to determine when—or if—she should have a child. Although you may feel that Obama’s promises are taking too long to manifest, Obama has proved to be a steady leader during a time of national and international turbulence. He wasn’t handed an economy that was humming along in 2008. Not at all. The failed policies and leadership of Bush and the Republicans meant that Obama was handed a nation in crisis, an economy that teetered on a Depression and a 1% elite who refuses to help out in any way. So, yes, it’s taken Obama a while to bring this nation back from the brink. But he and his Democratic allies have done it. And that’s why we are endorsing Barack Obama and Joe Biden for reelection as president and vice president on Tuesday, Nov. 6.

On the other hand, Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan want to dismantle government and would restrict the government’s legitimate ability to promote wage and tax fairness, gender pay equality, and help for the unemployed and underemployed. But, paradoxically, they approve of government intervention when it controls the most personal, intimate decision a woman can make—the choice to have a child.

So, please vote. It does matter. Your vote will make history.