Special Interest Voting

For several weeks now, allegations have been hurled between the Bush campaign and the Kerry campaign regarding special interests. The Bush campaign recently released an Internet video accusing Senator John Kerry of serving the interests of lobbyists and portraying the leading Democratic candidate as a hypocrite. The Kerry camp struck back with its own Internet video, offering a point-by-point response. Kerry, it seems, has the more discreditable record. A study by the nonpartisan Center for Responsive Politics indicates that Senator Kerry has received more money from lobbyists than any other senator, current or former, dating back to 1989, when the Center first starting collecting the data. As of September 30, 2003, the Center reported that Kerry had received nearly $640,000. Even fellow Democrat Howard Dean has slammed Kerry as “another special interest clone.” In any case, the special interest controversy surrounding both the Bush and Kerry campaigns is hardly surprising. In truth, every voting American represents a special interest. Simply put, an individual will vote for the candidate who best serves his or her interests. To vote in such a manner is perfectly natural, and I, despite my limited knowledge of politics, would not expect otherwise. Why would a well-to-do professional support a candidate who plans to unfairly adjust tax rates? Why would any senior support a candidate who wishes to lower the health care standards of Medicare recipients? If the “special interests” of the American majority were more pertinent—for example, unrestricted free trade within the Americas or improved public education and job training—then I would demonstrate less aversion toward special interest groups. In reality, however, many voters’ interests are significantly less relevant or appropriate. Many Americans, when deciding for whom to vote, concentrate on the candidates’ policy towards a certain industry, ideology, or economic sector. The close contest between Al Gore and George Bush in 2000 reminded America that every vote contributes toward the outcome of an election. I fear that the result of the upcoming election will be too heavily influenced by votes cast to advance narrow special interests. Quite frankly, voting in support of a single ideology or industry is an abuse of the democratic process. It is quite obvious that the powers of the United States presidency are substantial and paramount. The president is a dominant leader who determines America’s role in international affairs, and whose decisions while in office have lasting, widespread consequences. It would be disgraceful to help any candidate achieve such a powerful office because of mere special interests. Therefore, voters in 2004 must cast ballots responsibly; it is essential that Americans understand and consider the other, more significant implications of their choices. Voting in a reckless, uninformed manner will only hurt America.