Letter: No difference in candidates

By The Daily Illini

Chuck Prochaska on Sept. 21 claims The Daily Illini is “wielding its liberal influence” by reporting a recent poll showing Kerry beating Bush in Illinois. His entire argument is to contrast the poll to other polls – which also find Bush losing the state, only by smaller margins.

But such polls change from week to week, perhaps in recognition of the puny differences between the candidates. There are differences, of course – enough to hope that President Bush loses (again). But the real story, largely unreported in the “liberal” DI and other media, is the popular opinions both candidates ignore.

For many years polls have shown that U.S. citizens prefer some form of universal health care over any other option, for example. Yet no major-party presidential candidate has even proposed it. Polls also have shown consistently that most U.S. workers would choose a union if they could. Yet neither Bush nor Kerry proposes lifting procedural barriers to this basic right of free association.

Neither proposes following international law over the Bush policy of “preemptive strikes,” repealing the attacks on basic freedoms in the USA PATRIOT Act or true unoccupied democracies for Iraqis, Palestinians and others.

In fact, if Kerry weren’t such a sorry excuse for an opponent, Bush probably wouldn’t stand a chance. It’s an old story, and it’s partly why about half of those eligible to vote usually don’t.

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    Turnout matters. In 1980, for example, polls showed voters preferred Reagan 52 to 38 percent, while non-voters preferred Carter by almost the same margin.

    There are other reasons for not voting: masses of black voters improperly deleted, election commissioners blocking voter registration drives, etc. But until politicians learn to address the issues that confront ordinary people, it seems we will be stuck quibbling over a few percentage points.

    Ricky Baldwin

    Urbana resident