My Turn, Jimmie Moomaw: Swing voters are crucial

Published 12:00 am Saturday, September 3, 2016

If traditional wisdom prevails, Republicans, including fundamentalist Christians, Tea Partiers and life-long establishment conservatives, will garner roughly 45 percent of the votes cast in November. Democrats will pull their 45 percent from a variety of minorities, labor unions and Eastern eggheads who fit under their “rainbow umbrella” coalition.

Like schoolyard tug-of-war games, the two parties will wear each other down, but neither alone can pull the other side across the line to win the prize — the election of the next President of the United States.

This means that in November, more than ever before, the next President of the United States will be elected by the voters in the middle 10 percent — the 10 percent who are currently uncommitted.

Not all voters remain “uncommitted” for the same reason. The group includes: (1) uninformed voters, who by choice or chance don’t have enough information to make a decision; (2) undecided voters, who have the information but for whatever reason can’t make up their minds; (3) apathetic and/or apolitical parties who just aren’t interested in politics and don’t care who wins; and (4) true independents who proudly proclaim that they vote not for “the party” but “for the man” or, as in this case, “for the woman.”

Because the effectiveness of representative government requires the active involvement of those being represented, all elections are important and all votes really do matter. Because never before have the available choices offered a more stark contrast between the candidates or the consequences of making the wrong choice been more ominous, it is more important than ever that voters go to the polls in record numbers on Nov. 8 to cast a ballot.

Perhaps a reminder of what Republicans have done to — and what they have failed to do for — our country will help make up some minds.

Republicans have been particularly unresponsive to working-class voters and veterans. In fact, Republicans in control of Congress didn’t pass a single jobs bill. They voted down legislation to raise the minimum wage and equal pay for equal work for women. They cut food stamp, even to veterans, and actually filibustered to prevent an increase in Veterans’ benefits. They prevented the extension of unemployment benefits, and blocked immigration reform and background checks for gun purchases.

They gerrymandered and suppressed minority voting in every way they could in every district they could, while they cut taxes and created loop-holes for the wealthy. And they wasted $54 million while voting 51 times to repeal the Affordable Care Act plus another $21 billion while holding government hostage and shutting it down.

Then they had the nerve to call the unemployed and food stamp recipients “lazy” while they scheduled only 110 days of work for themselves.

Add to the harm already done by Republicans in Congress, the havoc they could wreak if Donald Trump becomes president, and it becomes clear that change is needed — change from a Republican to a Democratic majority up and down the line at all levels of government.

Remember, those of you in the currently uncommitted-undecided-apathetic-independent middle 10 percent, you have the power with your vote to change Washington for the better by voting for Hillary Clinton and Roy Cooper and Deborah Ross and all the down line Democrats on your ballot.

Jimmie Moomaw lives in Salisbury.