Nevada’s swing state status critical |

Nevada’s swing state status critical

by Peter Thompson

On Nov. 2, millions of Americans will head to the ballot box to decide the next president of the United States in a race that many of the polls say is a dead heat.

For Nevadans, five electoral votes and its position as a “swing state,” one that’s potentially able to go for either George W. Bush or John Kerry, have increased their influence and stature on the national scene.

Baby-kissing and hand-shaking are at an all-time high.

The Battle Born state is once again a political battleground, in one of the most important and contested elections in modern history. In 2000, Nevada’s four electoral votes helped put Bush over the top, as the Texas governor took the popular vote by just 21,597 votes over Vice President Al Gore.

But four years ago seems like ancient history. Four years ago, the nation lived in what seemed like a promised eternity with a sparkling blue horizon, one that quickly clouded over with the bloodshed of Sept. 11, 2001.

Today the United States is at war – not with another country, not with another religion, not with some demonic dervish cohabiting with a bunch of mountain goats in some cave in Afghanistan. It is at war with an abstraction: “Terror.”

It’s a dangerous abstraction – one that finds rock-hard footing every time a roadside bomb goes off and kills a G.I., or a new hostage-beheading is shown on the Internet.

The world has changed on the surface, too. Four years ago, who thought Martha Stewart would be sitting in federal prison? Arnold Schwarzenegger, governor of California, a state he cannot even pronounce? And actor Michael J. Fox, forever staunch card-carrying Nixon-ite, Alex P. Keaton, stumping for a liberal senator from Massachusetts?

With both sides reporting record numbers of new voters being registered, Nevadans are on track to shatter the turnout of 2000, when just 43.8 percent of the voting-age population participated, according to Federal Election Committee numbers. That’s just 608,970 of 1,390,000 people.

Nevadans are feeling a responsibility to show up on Nov. 2. How can American lives be risked for democracy abroad if those at home excuse themselves from participating in democracy?

The Nevada Appeal sought out a family supporting Bush, a family supporting Kerry and – the most difficult to find – a group of undecided voters. View the upcoming election through their eyes, rather than through the campaign machines and ubiquitous media.

Make up your mind about what you think. Then get ready to vote.