4 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 14, 2006
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FROM THE DAILY
Democrats must avoid the divisiveness trap
Editor in Chief
Editorial Page Editor
EDITED AND MANAGED BY STUDENTS AT
nTHE UNIVERSITY OF MICHIGAN SINCE 1890.
413 E. HURON ST.
ANN ARBOR, MI 48109
Editorial Board Members: Amanda Andrade, Emily Beam, Jared Goldberg,
Theresa Kennelly, Christopher Zbrozek
FROM THE DAILY
Primary election turnout low, ideas must live on
The Aug. 8 primary election that
this page had so eagerly await-
ed has come and gone. But in
a democracy, elections are the
beginning of the political process, not the
end. And so an analysis of the results and a
recalibration of outlook is in order.
Voter turnout; the anguishing epitome of
every election in our nation, was disappoint-
ing to say the least. The Washtenaw County
Clerk counts a county-wide turnout of about
17.5 percent. Why then did the remaining
82.5 percent of registered voters decline
the chance to vote? Individual reasons vary,
ranging from utter apathy to the unfortunate
lack of time, but there's no doubt more can be
done to increase turnout.
Given that this is a non-presidential election
year, and last week's was a primary election
at that, it's understandable that people would
hesitate to take time off from work to vote. But
the outcome of this election - especially in
Ann Arbor City Council, where the primary
races were fierce but the winners will cruise
uncontested in the November election - will
impact the day-to-day lives of Ann Arborites
as significantly as any election.
Why is it that in a nation that prides itself
as the blazer of democracy's well-worn trail,
election day is still not a national holiday?
There is no logic - and certainly no service
to the democratic process - in forcing people
to cut school or work to vote. Further, such a
policy is inevitably bound to disenfranchise
poor voters more severely than those who can
afford to take a day's loss of salary.
And speaking of structural barriers to
voting, why is the primary election in Ann
Arbor held at a time when nearly a quarter
of the city's usual population is absent? We
understand state law sets the date of the pri-
mary, but is it really so radical to ask that
all elections in college towns be held when
the student population is present?
Sure, student turnout is paltry even when
they're present (structural barriers play a
role there too; is there anything suspicious
to you about a ward map of the city that
splits the University's Central Campus into
each of the five wards?), but it takes only
a handful of votes to make a difference in
local elections. Just ask Jeff Meyers, whose
innovative, original ideas for more public
participation in city government fell but
158 votes short of salvation.
And so finally we come to ideas. Many
candidates had many (though some fell
short), but how many of them will find
their way to implementation? Winners who
had exciting new ideas, like Ron Suarez in
Ward 1, cannot let the cliquey nature of
council dilute their promises. Transpar-
ency and accountability in council, though
they became cliches during the campaign,
really are needed, and we hope that the
forum for diverse ideas and productive
debate truly expands. Those podcasts of
City Council meetings that Suarez prom-
ised are a good place to start.
And though some worthy candidates lost,
their ideas are too vital to be allowed to do the
same. Meyers, for example, advocated public
transportation that attracted users of choice
and more representation of students of each
ward at council meetings. It would be worthy
of aresponsible councilman (perhaps the man
who defeated Meyers, Councilman (Stephen)
Kunselman), to pick up on these ideas.
After all, what is a government that
refuses to build on solutions proposed in
the hearth of the political process? Nomi-
nally democratic at best.
By now, Joe Lieberman is a cau-
tionary tale. While headlines
across the nation were last week
splashed with news of a Connecticut pri-
mary turned wildly incomprehensible,
the Democratic Party is now left to con-
sider what the defeat of a powerful and
nationally prominent Senator bodes to
the future of the party.
Simply put, it doesn't bode well. Ned
Lamont owes his defeat of the established
incumbent largely to the efforts Politi-
cal Action Committees like Moveon.org.
Unfortunately, these PACs sunk to the same
dirty tactics the Democrats found so repre-
hensible in President Bush's primary race
against John McCain in 2000 and again
in the anti-John Kerry Swift Boat Vets for
Truth campaign of 2004. Moving to the
extreme of the party, Lamont and Moveon
attacked Lieberman for being too moder-
ate, too compromising. Lamont attacked on
one issue - the war in Iraq - and in the
end, that was enough to put Lieberman's
formidable career in limbo.
What this bodes then speaks to more than
the future of the Democratic Party - it tells of
the entire nation's political climate. More and
more, politicians win by making the fringe
of their party the base of their elections, but
representative government wasn't made for
ideologues unwilling to compromise.
For example, take Lamont. Assum-
ing the anti-war campaigner makes it to
Washington (and, understand, that's a big
assumption), as a freshman senator, he will
hold not a fraction of the power Lieberman
would have had. No matter how deep his
conviction against the reprehensible war
may go, he cannot end it alone. The people
of Connecticut will have someone speaking
for them on this issue, but without a strong
voice, how far will that message go?
And while the war in Iraq remains
without question an enduring political
ill, while the issue demands a resolu-
tion because it plays a large role in our
nation's problems at home and abroad,
it is ultimately but one issue. What the
Democrats have won in anti-war rheto-
ric, they have lost disproportionately in
power. Lieberman is a social liberal, and
his long tenure in the Senate has won him
friends across the aisle and the ability to
pass progressive legislation. The price of
this one plank may mean a great blow to
the rest of the Democratic platform.
The Democrats are° admittedly at the
disadvantage, with a minority in both
houses and facing increasing pressure from
their base to resist being bulldozed by the
Republicans. But the solution cannot be
to elect fresh faces angry and untainted
by that particular smear of compromise
that comes from any productive career in
Washington. Nor can they continue this
progression to make the war in Iraq a lit-
mus test for politicians, lest they risk losing
more of their most powerful allies. From
preliminary polls, it appears that Lieber-
man the independent has a strong chance
of re-election. And where would that leave
the Democrats, having betrayed one of
their most-respected leaders, only to have
him reclaim the seat but this time, without
any party obligations?
Primarily, Republicans are the ones who q
have been guilty of this in the past, and
they too must understand the dangers of
pushing too far and too passionately from
the center. True, both parties have to hold
fast to their core values, but they also need
to recognize that representative govern-
ment comes with certain logistic realities.
Neither party can survive, much less gov-
ern, as a one-issue malcontent.
LETTERS TO THE EDITOR
Israel's actions cannot lead ing a real cease-fire, one based on mutual accept-
ability rather than constant exercise of force.
to sustainable cease-fTre Noah Link
LIVE ON YOUR FEET JO IN 0UN'T
..ISRAELI WARPLANES AGAIN ...AND HEZO LAH CONTINUES TO
STRUCK TARGETS IN LEBANON... FIRE SCORES OF ROCKETS AS A
HUMANITARIAN DISASTER tNFOLDS...
To THE DAILY:
In his column, Jared Goldberg declares, "This
is Hezbollah's war" (The repetition of history,
07/31/06). In fact, Israel was already planning a
war against Lebanon at least a year ago in col-
laboration with Washington, as professor Juan
Cole revealed on his website (wwwjuancole.com,
07/23/06). The current violence was calculated
long before terrorists launched any attack.
Sound familiar? (Hint: Iraq.) Even with the
excuse of self defense, there is no justification for
the scope of Israel's aggression in Lebanon. Let's
not kid ourselves: No other nation could maintain
our approval while recklessly bombing civilians,
international peacekeepers and medical relief
teams. Razing to the ground any areas of resis-
tance to Israel may be an immediate, if brutal,
way to protect its cities from rocket attacks, but it
will not lead to a "sustainable cease-fire."
As the situation worsens, support for Hezbol-
lah and violent resistance only increases, provid-
ing an outlet for frustration and rage against U.S.
and Israeli policy to builda "new Middle East."We
would do better to support friends and family in
Israel by condemning the current war andnegotiat-
College newspapers have
'unique and valuable edge'
To THE DAILY:
I'm glad the Michigan Daily has criticized the
sale of the Florida State University student news-
paper to the Gannett-owned Tallahassee Demo-
crat (Corporate Joumalism, 08/07/06). Anybody 4
who's ever worked for or read a good, independent
college newspaper recognizes the unique role
they serve. At their best, college papers strive to
be professional without committing all the weasly
sins of big papers.
The college press goes out of bounds sometimes,
but that's whatgives it a unique and valuable edge. *
Sometimes it even attacks the established city
daily, an impossibility I think now in Tallahassee.
It's too bad the collegiate press has been turned
into a demographic commodity. But please don't
sell out while you're still in college. There will be
plenty of time for that later.
New York City