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Published on Saturday, August 19, 2000 in the Philadelphia Inquirer
Voters Won't Care Again Until They Matter Again
by Martin F. Stockman 3d
 
Every four years, I make a pledge to carry out my right of self-determination, to add my voice to that of my fellow citizens in electing the new leader of the "free world."

It is also about this same time that I begin to sense that the train has left the station without me and that any vote I have is an afterthought, a rubber stamp to the status quo. How can it be otherwise when candidates are determined long before any real debate can begin, just after the money has had a chance to poison the process?

I refuse to delude myself any longer in believing that the political process has anything to do with me or the majority of my fellow countrymen.

The apathetic American voter is condemned for the poor state of the political process, but I submit that he is just worn down from having to combat lobbies, political-action committees, Hollywood and party leadership. Privilege, money and power are all that matter in this executive farce.

Both major parties have yet to act on real campaign-finance reform because their ability to raise money is second to none in the world. Why let some other third or fourth party have an equal say?

The vote has been taken from us by the almighty dollar, and every time we send someone into the breech to change things, they, in turn, are either corrupted by the money or isolated by it.

We no longer vote issues; we vote for cardboard cutouts that mouth the words that money speaks. The party leadership mocks us with spectacles of excess (conventions) to get a few superficial sound bites and video clips out in front of the American public and to reward the party faithful for their efforts in perpetuating the fraud that our two-party system has become.

I can hear the moans and groans from dyed-in-the-wool Democrats and Republicans, but let me ask one question: How well would your candidates fare with a tenth of the money and equal time in front of an objective panel? How many real leaders might step forward with a level playing field?

There is only one real issue for Americans today, and that is campaign-finance reform. If your candidate does not have a concrete plan for finance reform, he does not deserve your vote. He has no interest in change past his own election.

Send a message to the powers that be that the status quo is unacceptable. We deserve candidates with the courage to do what is right for the people, not their particular party. Our democracy depends upon it.

Martin F. Stockman 3d lives and votes in Bethlehem, Pa.

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