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Article published January 1, 2013
Writer’s math shaky
Michael Bagdes-Canning Cherry Valley
Dickson Forbes, in an attempt to make sense of the last election (“Theft, election wrong,” Dec. 6), falls prey to magical thinking. When he finally sums everything up, is it any wonder why he misses the point entirely? First, Forbes states that half the country thinks one way and the other half thinks another. He arrives at that conclusion by looking at the popular vote totals achieved by Mitt Romney and President Barack Obama. Forbes’ math is shaky. He takes 29 plus 27 plus 43 plus 1 and gets 56. The thing about the Nov. 6 election (and most elections) is that more eligible voters elected to “vote” for someone other than a Democrat or a Republican. A shocking 43 percent of all eligible voters didn’t vote at all. Of all eligible voters, Obama received 29 percent of the vote and Romney, 27 percent. Right off the bat, Forbes’ contention is doomed. Based on his faulty math, Forbes then divides the country into two camps, the producers and the takers. Never mind the shear absurdity of such a formulation. What about the 44 percent of Americans (factoring in the ones who voted for someone other than Obama or Romney) who looked at the choices they were given and said, “No thanks”? Forbes then goes on to suggest that “his” kind of Americans believe that the government “should work for the people, not the other way around.” I think it’s safe to say that almost all Americans think the government should work for the people. The problem is, most Americans don’t think that’s the case. I’ve rarely met anyone who thinks the government is on their side. That’s why the largest vote-getter by far was None of the Above. That’s also why many people who voted for Obama or Romney weren’t exactly thrilled; they voted for the lesser of two evils. Forbes then suggests that “we have become a country with two very distinct and separate populations.” This is where he goes on the absurd riff I alluded to earlier. Does anyone really believe, as Forbes seems to suggest, that all Americans who voted for Romney believe in the American dream, capitalism, hard work, and self-reliance, and all those who voted for Obama don’t? And what about the 44 percent who didn’t vote for either? Don’t they count? Instead of doing the heavy lifting, Forbes takes the easy way out. He looks at America and sees two camps. He creates virtuous heroes and counts himself among them. He erects straw men and then skewers them. The truth is, our system is broken. We’ve got a government that does not serve the interests of the vast majority of its people, and this is not a phenomenon that has its genesis in the presidency of Barack Obama. Neither party is acceptable to most Americans. None of the Above got more votes than any other candidate because our system is broken. Neither the Republicans nor the Democrats can claim any sort of mandate when they can’t even excite one third of the eligible voters to cast a ballot for them. What we’re left with is the best of the worst.