WEST PALM BEACH, Fl, July 25, 2012 – The United States Constitution gives American citizens over the age of 18 the right to vote for their president. Voters do not have to be land owners, belong to a particular religion or party, or any other group, to vote. In some states, like Florida, former felons are prohibited from casting ballots, but that is a state rather than federal law.
In the United States, we elect our chief executive directly. That means we not only vote for our legislature, members of Congress, we also cast a ballot directly for our president.
In parliamentary systems, voters do not elect their prime minister. The legislature selects the prime minister, so in general, the party that wins parliament also holds the position of prime minister.
American’s have a unique ability to elect their leader. Yet many American’s do not vote. In the 2008 presidential election, 132,618,580 registered voters, or 56.8% of the population voted. President Obama won with 52.9% of the vote. That means that only about a quarter of registered voters backed President Obama in the election. Almost three-fourths of the electorate did not vote for President Obama. Only about a quarter of the population gave President Obama a job making $400,000 a year, with quite a few perks, and positioned him to make decisions for us for four years.
Many American’s simply believe their vote does not count, and that a single vote is inconsequential. In fact, very small numbers of votes can impact the outcome. In Cape Verde’s presidential election in 2001, Pedro Pires won by only 12 votes. Most American’s are familiar with the very close 2000 presidential election between Al Gore and George W. Bush.
In that election, Bush beat Gore in Florida by only 537 votes, giving him enough electoral votes to win the national election. In New Mexico the same year, Bush won by only 366 votes. There are numerous examples of close votes at all levels of elections, both domestically and internationally, local and national. The bottom line is that your vote counts.
Some American’s say the President does not really make policy. Again, not true. According to the Constitution, the President is the Chief Executive and the Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces. That means the president enforces laws, treaties and court rulings. He writes the national budget and makes decisions for how federal money is allocated.
He creates federal policies and appoints federal officials. The president has the power to commute sentences and grant pardons. Additionally, he can veto legislation. As Commander in Chief, he is charged with deciding whether to send troops to combat. The President is also the only person who can approve the use of nuclear weapons.
If that isn’t enough, there is the power of the executive order, which president’s have used since 1789 to stretch the boundaries of the executive branch. An executive order technically clarifies or furthers an existing law, and it has the full force of law without going through the usual legislative process. Orders become law 30 days after declaration if Congress does not challenge them. In reality, executives also, however, use executive orders to push through new laws.
Every president uses executive order. So far, President Obama has signed 132 executive orders. President Clinton signed 363, President George W. Bush signed 291, President George H. W. Bush signed 165, and President Reagan signed 380. Franklin Delano Roosevelt holds the record for most executive orders, signing 3,228 during his presidency.
Other American’s believe it doesn’t really matter who gets into office, that both candidates are part of the political machine and are basically the same. That is not true. President Obama and Mr. Romney may share some views of the world, but they are diametrically opposed on others.
What are some issues that the next president will influence? What does each candidate say about them? Economic policies, health care, taxes, immigration, foreign policy and social issues —including gay marriage, abortion, rights for non-married — gun control, and the death penalty are all issues the next president will at least weigh in on, if not create and enforce.
Do you know what Mitt Romney and Barak Obama say about creating jobs? Stimulus plans? War? Health Care? Religion?
Do you know what “big government” means and what each candidate believes about it?
Or do you rely on friends, family and other hearsay to make your decisions?
Don’t drink the Kool-Aid; do your own research and form your own conclusions.
Before November, take time to understand the issues and the position of the candidates on those issues. Vote for the candidate who most closely meets your needs, whether that is Obama or Romney. Vote in the way that makes the most sense to you.
But whatever you do this November, vote.
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