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Posted on Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 4:33 p.m.

Complacency the real opponent when it comes to elections

By Tom Watkins


Republican presidential nominee Mitt Romney answers a question and President Barack Obama listens during the first presidential debate at the University of Denver, Wednesday, Oct. 3, 2012, in Denver.

AP Photo/Charlie Neibergall

Does your vote matter? Let me count the ways.

Is anyone seriously wondering if they should vote in the 2012 presidential election? Don’t get all Shakespeare on me — “To vote or not to vote.” Really?

YES, your vote DOES matter!

Imagine, if you will, your life with a second President Barack Obama four-year term or four new years with a President Mitt Romney.

The day of reckoning is fast approaching. In a little more than a month, Americans go to the polls and either re-elect Obama or select Romney as our next president.

As of this writing, according to Poll Tracker, Obama leads by 3.5 percentage points nationally, and is leading in the majority of the key swing states. In Michigan, he is up a whopping 11 percentage points: 51.2 percent to Romney’s 40.6 percent.

Being ahead in the polls is certainly better than being behind. Yet, if you are a Democrat, a woman concerned about your health care rights, or an independent who believes President Obama has the forward-looking vision that helps lift ALL Americans, now is NOT the time to break out the party hats and begin to celebrate.

Historically, when polls seem to be tilting your way, they create a false sense of inevitability that a candidate is going to win.

Polls don’t vote

History has a painful way of reminding complacent voters that “polls never win elections — voters who vote on Election Day do!”

President John Kennedy won by the slimmest of margins in 1960.

Have we forgotten the 1990 upset win of Republican Senate Majority Leader John Engler over two-term incumbent Gov. James Blanchard?

Voter turnout matters. Leading up to the election of 1989, Blanchard was riding high, some polls had him as high as 14 points ahead of his rival just two weeks before the election — and he lost by 1/2 of 1 percent.

I remember the election very well. I served as Blanchard’s deputy campaign manager in his first successful run for governor and later as his deputy chief of staff in his first term, eventually ending as director of the Michigan Department of Mental Health when he unexpectedly lost in 1990. It was a stunning loss.

In postmortem reviews, political pundits universally concluded that turnout — or the lack thereof — helped bring Blanchard down. It has been demonstrated that if he had retained the exact same turnout of city of Detroit and other Democratic strongholds voters that he received from his 1982 and 1986 races, he would have secured a third term in office.

As they ask on the streets, “How’d that turn out for you?”

Blanchard put it this way: “The constant drumbeat of polls showing a candidate with a clear lead can lull voters and supporters to sleep. Indeed, complacency becomes the opponent.”

One vote may very well just count. Ask Bill Clinton administration’s Al Gore, who some claim lost the election to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided the election in favor of George W. Bush.

The election came down to a few hundred votes in Palm Beach County, Fla. One can only speculate how different the country would be with a President Gore vs. eight years of “Dubya.”

Again, “How’d that turn out for you?”

Former Detroit Mayor Dennis Archer, now 70, says: “In order for President Barack Obama to be re-elected, all of his supporters must vote either by absentee ballot or by going to their assigned voting booths on Election Day to cast a ballot in person. By any objective standard, President Obama has earned our vote and the vote of the American people so that he can complete the outstanding work he began almost four years ago.”

Archer continues: “While President Obama is leading in the polls nationally and in the state of Michigan, polls don’t vote, people vote. Personally, I am fired up and ready to vote for Obama.”

So, if you sit home and don’t vote — assuming Obama will win — don’t complain if he doesn’t.

Your vote matters — exercise the right!

We earned it the hard way.

Tom Watkins has been an active participant/observer in the political/policy debates in Michigan for 30 plus years. He is a US/China business and educational consultant and can be reached at:



Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:13 p.m.

Please elaborate on what outstanding things he did over the last 4 years?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:48 p.m.

Killed the guy that got funding for the 9/11 attacks. Passed a law that will insure tens of millions of your fellow Americans. Ended combat in Iraq, which is saving your tax dollars. Paved I-94, extended COBRA coverage to millions of unemployed Americans. Signed a law that says women should make the same wage as men. Tighter restrictions on banks and investment firms. Allowed gay people to serve their country which will bring hundreds if not thousands of qualified people into the military. Stopped defending DOMA. Extended Veterans benefits and access to medical care.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:58 p.m.

Is the City of Detroit any better off than 4 years ago or the State of Michigan, is employment better than 4 years ago, is crime down there or in Chicago, do we still have men and women being killed overseas to protect those that need protecting or is it the other way around, is gas lower today than 4 years ago, are my health premiums lower today than back in 2008, where is the United States overall internationally for GDP? Did we or did we not lower our ratings? Do we own anyone any money more or less than 4 years ago, are we one heart beat away from a VP that all he can do is smile and show off his dentures and blame the Republicans it's all their fault when the first 2 years they controlled congress and couldn't decide among themselves what to do? Let me wake up from my coma, so I can see all the change for the better and move forward so I can realize we are better today than 4 years ago. Nice try.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 3:10 p.m.

"Chicago crime statistics report an overall downward trend in crime based on data from 12 years with violent crime decreasing and property crime decreasing. Based on this trend, the crime rate in Chicago for 2012 is expected to be lower than in 2010." --The Economic Policy Institute said African Americans in the Detroit area had an 18.1 percent jobless rate last year, down from 2010?s 25.4 percent.-- Thanks for asking the questions WALKER, now that you have the answers what will you do with them?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:41 p.m.

Michigans unemployment rate was 14.2% in 2009. It is 9.4% today, up .4% even with the removal of the MBT's "job creation". Men and women have been being killed over seas for a while Maybe you have forgotten "Mission Accomplished", after which over 5,000 Americans were killed. From 2003-2008 the US embassy in Iraq was attacked weekly. GWB ( and a GOP congress) gave Qaddaffi US taxpayer money. His Sec Def shook hands with Saddam Hussein as Reagans envoy, after Reagan gave weapons to Iran in a drugs/guns scam. Reagan tucked his tail and ran from Lebanon after 300 marines were killed. Your insurance premiums have gone up EVERY YEAR for decades. The US rating was dropped sue to GOP obstructionism, read the report from the people that lowered the rating, that is what they said. GDP is growing, slowly, which is better than it was when your man Bush left office. When he came into office unemployment was 4%, when he left it was 7.8% and rising. Gas was $4.30 a gal in June of 2008, then dropped as the worldwide economy tanked. Oil and natural gas production are near record highs in the USA. What have YOU done for your country, other than whine and complain? Where were you when Bush nearly doubled the debt? Where were you when Reagan nearly tripled the debt? Where were you when gas hit $4+/gal in 2008? Where were you when Bush was making fun of the search for wmd's in a skit for the Press Corp dinner as US service men were being killed looking for those missing wmd's?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:56 p.m.

I finally got what Gov Romney was talking about when he spoke of people that consider themselves "victims". He was talking about the 47% of Americans that think they have no control over their lives. They have zero personal responsibility, they blame everything on the government and on Obama. I cannot imagine having so little control over ones own life, being controlled by Media Elites, propaganda and Miss Information instead running ones own life. I myself have seen very little change in my life that I can "blame" on the president. Since 2010 my income has gone up, in 2009 I was able to stay in my house because of extended COBRA and unemployment coverages, my wife can now get health insurance with her pre-existing conditions, my neighbors job was probably saved by the auto bail-out and I-94 got paved with "Obama money". If you are doing worse, isn't it time you stop blaming others and look in the mirror?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 12:04 p.m.

I voted for Obama in 2008 hoping for the change he was going to make in this country. Contrary to that fact, he has done more to harm this country than any president that I can remember -- have been around for many years. Obamacare must go, the lives of four US citizens are more than a "bump in the road" as he professes, small businesses need to be allowed to grow and not be taxed out of existence, plus more. He does not speak the truth, he makes rules that fit his needs, and spends more time roaming around the country attending campaign fund raising events that he does in Washington -- No vote for Obama -- Romey/Ryan for me this year.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:34 p.m.

What harm has he done? What taxes on small business has he raised? He has cut taxes and offered incentives and credits to small businesses: Health care tax credit, mobile phone deductions, start-up deductions, lowered penalties for errors in preparations, 50% bonus depreciation on equipment, extended exclusions on capital gains, extended tax opportunities for those that hire veterans, are just some of the breaks small businesses have received under Obama. Did you know that ALL presidential candidates "roam the country" collecting money to pay for our "free market" elections? Bush II did it, Bush I did it, Clinton did it, Reagan did it.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 10:34 a.m.

If President Bill Clinton was "faithful" - to his political party - he could have simply left office when he was impeached near the end of his second term. Why? A] To immortalize the party as being one of jazz-cat good-ol-boy smokin backroom business swingers - thus engaging more of the young voters an re-invigorating representative democracy. B] Al Gore would have become president like Ford (respected) and then likely beat Bush in '00. NWO's Iraq would have never happened. So, in effect, Bill's '96voters and Bill's ego were responsible for getting 'W' elected and the subsequent decline that followed - the Iraq expense, Orwellian laws, deficits, and bank de-regulation among other severe national impacts. Probably not what the voters - of either party - intended. The alternative is to have greater control over issues than vote for not-so-representative politicians.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 9:32 a.m.

No matter Democrat or Republican -- only voters who have taken time to familiarize themselves with the proposals and the candidates should vote. All others...stay home. Michigan is a fine example of what happens when too many uninformed voters go to the polls. Just an observation.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 9:01 a.m.

"Ask Bill Clinton administration's Al Gore, who some claim lost the election to the U.S. Supreme Court, which decided the election in favor of George W. Bush." Hey,, are you sure this guy is who he says he is? I don't mean to be a grammar snob, but wouldn't it have been more appropriate to write "Ask Vice President Al Gore..."? Sorry, Tom, but if Blanchard had an outstanding record of achievement, he might have been able to galvanize supporters enough to win a third term. It's not easy to do that, and even if they do, chances are good the third term produces an inferior administration given the voter fatigue and lack of new ideas coming from the administration.

j shelden

Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 5:47 a.m.

Does My vote matter? Of course it does. Probably more important than the presidential race, are the myriad of local races at the city and township level. Most are not heated or contentious races. But some are. One such example is in Augusta Township where you have 3 out 7 board members hounding the multi term incumbent clerk Ms Giszczak who was recently exonerated from 2 trumped up and false felony allegations and these charges as were many of the issues in this township were further exasperated by and promoted the Supervisor Pete Hafler and his minority but loyal followers. In that township you have several hotly charged races. One in particular is the race for treasurer where you have the incumbent treasurer Susan Burek running a legitimate and potentially successful Write-In campaign against a newcomer and devout follower of Pete Hafler...Ms Dew. If you ask me this is the race to watch. You would be well educated if you read the writings by Ms Burek on her website here at Ms burek is one of the few in this township who is unaligned in these viscous attacks on the good clerk. Her comments should be mandatory reading by all voters prior to voting. Good luck Susan Burek! I will be writing you in for treasurer and I intend to replace Hafler and King with Brian Shelby and Howard and Todd and Okeefe and will reelect both Giszczak and write-in Susan Burek


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 5:36 a.m.

I'm a woman and I am not "concerned about my health care rights" with Romney, I am however concerned about Obamacare, one of only many reasons I will be voting for Romney. This false narrative "war on woman" is ridiculous and as a woman I find it rude and condensending to think that I would not be interested in more depth anything either canidate has to offer. And this idea that Obama is for ALL Americans and somehow Romney is not so stupid. I follow politics a lot, I am informed, people on the opposite side of me do as well. We will vote how we vote. Additionally I have met several people who have flat out said they lean one way or the other that will not vote because they "don't feel like it". I have also spoken with a few people recently who have said they don't follow politics, don't care to and won't vote because they don't feel they know enough to make a decision they could stand behind. A persons right to not vote is also theirs.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:24 p.m.

What is it that concerns you about Obamacare?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:21 a.m.

Thanks for the article. Many people need to be reminded. We will drop our absentee ballots into the locked box in the lobby of city call. Besides other important reasons, we need to remember that there might be one or two U.S. Supreme Court vacancies during the next Presidential term and the makeup of the court will affect people who are adults now and children who will become adults during the decades long judgeships (appointed for life). We want our daughter and granddaughter to be able to make their own health care decisions, as today's women. I want to honor my (now deceased) grandmother who fought for access to contraception.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:54 p.m.

bunny...I have been to multiple doctors offices and the emergency room since 2009, I have noticed no difference. Their was no "death panel" representative. I did not use a government run hospital or government health care workers.The only "government control" I have seen in the health care field is that of GOP mandated reproductive procedures.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 5:42 a.m.

interesting choice of words: "We want our daughter and granddaughter to be able to make their own health care decisions". funny that, government run health care puts the government in the room with your daughter and granddaughters and her doctor.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:29 a.m.

After the word "embryo" I meant to write, "takes precedence."


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:26 a.m.

I also want to honor my (now deceased) father-in-law who worked in the ER of Chicago's Cook County Hospital and worked hard to save the lives of women who arrived, almost bleeding to death from self induced or "back alley" abortions. Whether life begins at conception or at quickening of the fetus or at any other time is a religious issue that shouldn't be part of Government. Whether the embryo or woman carrying the embryo is also an issue that has no business in the Government of the United States of America.

Soft Paw

Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 12:41 a.m.

What beat Blanchard was taxes going out of control.. Michigan had some of the highest taxes in the US.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:28 a.m.

After the word "embryo" I meant to write, "takes precedence."

Chase Ingersoll

Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 11:56 p.m.

I don't have a problem with universal suffrage when it comes to something like American Idol. But on matters that can cost the lives of millions of people we should not have a system that results in spending billions on influencing the vote of the "pander-to-me" class of individuals who lack of interest in the issues is only surpassed by their total ignorance on the issues. At the very least we should require that people show up at the polls, and on the ballot chose from an alphabetical list of all of the candidates on the ballot and then match that candidate to the correct office for which that candidate is running. No telling them which candidates are running for that office. No party affiliation. No cheat sheets. If you don't know the issues, then shut up. If you don't know the candidates name or office, then don't vote. Ironically this would have probably led to the election of Barack Obama as President and Sarah Palin as Vice-President.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 12:50 a.m.

..while standing on a bed of coals.


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 12:22 a.m.

. . . and they ought to be able to do it blindfolded.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 10:12 p.m.

"...We earned it the hard way..." What's the hard way? Are you sure you weren't born with the right?


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 9:50 p.m.

I strongly disagree. Democracy is the voice of human choice which differentiates between thinking person and worthless statistic. Unfortunately, representative democracy in this age of instant communications technology has returned voters back to the worthless column as being simple numbers. They do not matter. 1. There are only two representative parties. Both are bought by and paid for by PACs and monied lobbies. Unless you are rich and donate (hence only the two parties to split the gifts) you have no voice. Where is your choice? The people voted. The incombents won. The country is in terrible straights. Why? Not because of those who got wise to the game and stayed home. 2. Once upon a time issues were too complicated for the working patriot so the more educated Congress/Parliment representative had to "serve" as the "information gobetween". In this day that is no longer true. In fact many of the smarter politicians don't even know and/or care what it is they are told to vote on. In this country it is We The People who are supposed to have the choice. so why not really have power over the vote - by issue - electronically? Oh, it is too insecure the elite will tell you. Yet the entire world economy worth trillions of dollars and the most sophisticated defense and intelligence networks seem to be able to rely upon that same technology. 3. Nobody will win the majority next election - another case in point.


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 9:46 p.m.

Every time I hear about how asking for photo ID stops voters from voting I remember: "The election came down to a few hundred votes in Palm Beach County, Fla. One can only speculate how different the country would be with a President Gore vs. eight years of "Dubya." "Imagine, if you will, your life with a second President Barack Obama four-year term" Scary isn't it!


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:50 p.m.

Can you supply us with a study that shows people voting as other people is common, has swayed an election or is a major issue?


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 2:05 a.m.

Not at all, XMO. What is it that scares you? Are you a millionaire afraid of going broke from additional taxes imposed at a marginal tax rate 4 percentage points higher than now? Are you afraid that you can not take advantage of all the benefits in the ACA, including subsidies that will help you pay for employees' health insurance if you own a small business? Is it the possibility that Social Security may be assured solvency for 75 years by just removing the income cap for payroll taxes? Is it the preservation of women's rights and Planned Parenthood with guaranteed access to legal abortions, contraceptives, pap smears and mammograms? Is it the perpetuation of equal pay for equal work proscribed by the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act of 2009? Is it fear that the President will appoint new Supreme Court justices who are well-qualified and moderate political candidate(s) rather than another President appointing right-wing conservative candidate(s) with pro-business and pro-life agenda(s)? Is it the fear that the President will balance the budget and reduce the deficit by a combination of streamlining the budget, revising the tax code and increasing revenue through modest and targeted tax increases? Or is it the fear that the President will not sustain respect among world leaders, or end the war in Afghanistan as promised, or continue to fight al Qaeda as he has so successfully done so far? Or do you have special interests that you expect to lose if Obama is re-elected?


Fri, Oct 12, 2012 : 9:26 p.m.

"President Obama has earned our vote and the vote of the American people so that he can complete the outstanding work he began almost four years ago." quote by Dennis Archer. Really??? What outstnding work has he done? Turning our Freedom loving Country into a Socialist/Communist run Country should be alarming to ALL Americans regardless of the color of their skin!!! You are right Tom, we should all vote...but not for Obama!!!..or any of his crew!


Sat, Oct 13, 2012 : 1:21 p.m.

Please list the communism of Obama. Compared to the last guy, Obama is doing a great job. The last guy started with 4.9% unemployment and left with 7.8%. He left with the citizens losing over a trillion in wealth and the taxpayers picking up the tab for lack of oversight of investment firms and banks. He left with two unfunded wars unfinished and thousands of veterans returning with little support. He left without killing the Most Wanted man, Usama been forgotten by the GOP. In other words, he left a gigantic MESS. What have YOU done to help your country, other then whine?