Two men contacted me following my commentary on the Nevada primary. Both made excellent, yet contradictory, points.
Rod McLean urged me to use my column to perform a public service and remind older voters and educate younger voters about the importance of the right to vote.
“The upcoming elections may be among the most important in recent generations, regardless of party affiliation,” he wrote.
The primary turnout statewide and in Clark County was the second-worst in Nevada’s history, with
19 percent turnout in Nevada and 16 percent in Clark County.
Greg White, on the other hand, explained he didn’t vote and won’t vote in the fall, not out of apathy, but out of frustration.
“I’m not apathetic, it simply doesn’t do any damn good,” he said. “You vote somebody out and you get someone worse. It’s pointless and useless.”
White is 52, an unemployed maintenance man, and has always voted since turning 18. A Las Vegan for most of the past 30 years, he bought a condominium here for $131,000, and now it’s worth $35,000. The bank won’t negotiate lowering the principal. It’s a Veterans Affairs loan, so he doesn’t qualify for federal programs designed to help people who are upside-down on their mortgages. White has a lot in common with many other Nevadans.
White had called U.S. Sen. Harry Reid’s office that morning to blast Democrat Reid and Arizona Republican John McCain for their boxing proposal. “Congress is paralyzed and they have nothing better to do in the U.S. Senate than talk about boxing?”
White doesn’t care if President Barack Obama wins or if former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney wins. He sees no difference between Dean Heller and Shelley Berkley in the U.S. Senate races or between Danny Tarkanian and Steve Horsford in a congressional race. He feels the same way about state and local races.
“I’m not buying what anybody’s saying in the Senate, House or state government.”
He believes there are no moderates left in Congress, just ideologues on both sides who refuse to compromise. That’s the reason he says it won’t make a difference whether a Democrat or a Republican is elected because no matter who wins, nothing will get done.
He has voted for Democrats and Republicans and considers himself an independent voter.
“It’s not that we don’t care. We care too much, and we’ve become too frustrated,” White said, referring to nonvoters.
White thinks he represents the majority of people who don’t vote. I disagree.
There are people who don’t vote because they have not studied up on the candidates and don’t want to cast an ill-informed vote. They are right not to vote.
There are people who don’t vote because they get busy and assume the candidate they support will win anyway. One example: state Sen. John Lee who lost in the Democratic primary by a large percentage to Patricia Spearman, who had the backing of liberal activists who went door to door. He lost by 926 votes.
Lee is now hearing from people who didn’t vote. They say they are sorry; they assumed he would win.
“I sensed that people are just tired,” Lee said. “They didn’t complain about gas prices or about crime; they’re just getting beat. They want some kind of reprieve from bad news and don’t think anyone elected can change that.”
I understand White’s frustration but believe, like McLean, that voting matters and opting out isn’t the answer.
It makes a difference who sets the agenda, who has the right to sign executive orders, raise taxes or guide social issues. It makes a big difference which party controls state legislatures and which philosophy prevails.
White said rather than voting for the lesser of two evils, it’s a choice between Satan and Lucifer.
Even in years when I am dismayed about my ballot choices, I can’t agree with that.
However, I can understand why he thinks it.
Jane Ann Morrison’s column appears Monday, Thursday and Saturday. Email her at Jane@reviewjournal.com or call her at 702-383-0275. She also blogs at