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Commentary: Tune in to 2008 before it's too late

  • Story Highlights
  • Columnist: It's ridiculous for people to say they don't have time for 2008 election
  • Presidency is about more than war, it's about Supreme Court, Roland Martin says
  • Martin: Evidence shows a hundred votes here or there can make a big difference
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By Roland S. Martin
CNN Contributor
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(CNN) -- Forgive me for being a bit cranky. A week ago, I had three wisdom teeth removed, and with all the prescriptions and tight stitches in my mouth, I've been unable to do any radio or TV this past week, and that has me all wound up.

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Roland S. Martin asks what's more important: the 2008 presidential election or the return of "American Idol"?

But I've gotta get a few things off my chest, and none is more important than this ridiculous sentiment that people don't have time to worry about the presidential race and that it's too early to spend an inordinate amount of time worrying about the candidates.

Folks, that's about as dumb a comment as any I've heard.

Oh, I know we're all so busy with our lives, but really, does it make sense that we spend more time fantasizing about our dream car than investigating who the next president of the United States will be?

You might say I get paid to be wrapped up in all of this stuff. And while that might be true, I'm not checking Politico.com every five minutes and recording all the Sunday morning news shows. But when I see research that suggests the average person spends five minutes a month -- total -- on the presidential race, I go stir crazy.

Here we are in a war that is costing $275 million a day, and we don't have any clue when it will end, and we have more things to be concerned with?

President Bush vetoed a children's health care bill that would have expanded spending by $35 billion over five years, but the Republican-led Congress passed a prescription drug bill a couple years ago that cost $100 billion more than advertised. Hey, maybe if we had gotten the full truth then, we could pay for the State Children's Health Insurance Program.

We have an illegal immigration problem that is out of control. The borders aren't secure, big business is grabbing as much cheap labor as possible, and our attention is more on whether to buy a 45-inch or 50-inch high-definition TV for Christmas?

For three hours a day on WVON in Chicago, I host a daily radio show and try to give people as much information as possible. Why? Because in a year, we'll be voting on the president of the United States! You know, the person who can decide whether our troops invade another country or not?

But the presidency goes beyond just the war.

Anyone thought of the Supreme Court? I'm reading a great book by my CNN colleague Jeffrey Toobin called "The Nine: Inside the Secret World of the Supreme Court." Even though the Senate votes to confirm a justice, it is the president who chooses one of the nine most important jobs in the world.

Some expect the next president to choose three justices. And with the court on the cusp of having a solid conservative majority, evangelicals and conservatives are salivating at the chance of overturning Roe v. Wade. That also could drive liberals and women to the polls to push their candidate into the White House. That's a pretty big deal.

What am I trying to say? This next election has huge implications, and we all should be more actively engaged. With candidates running a year ahead of time, spending millions of dollars and offering more policy positions, Web sites and talking points than ever before, no one can suggest they never had a chance to get to know Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Sens. John Edwards and Fred Thompson, former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani and former Gov. Mitt Romney of Massachusetts.

Each and every person should be asking his friends, family, church members and, yes, co-workers where they stand on the presidential race. If someone says, "I don't know much," point them in the right direction.

It would be great to see upward of 70 percent or 80 percent of Americans casting votes in the national election. But we'll never get there if people don't care.

And for that person who keeps saying, "My vote doesn't count," I say, "That's a bunch of crap." Whether it's a House or Senate race or even the race for the White House, the evidence is there that a few hundred votes here or there can make a huge difference.

The first primary begins in January. That's also when Fox's "American Idol" returns to the airwaves. The winner of that show gets a recording deal. The winner of the presidential election is the "leader of the free world."

Which do you think is more important to the future of your children?

Roland S. Martin is a nationally award-winning journalist and CNN contributor. Martin is studying to receive his master's degree in Christian communications at Louisiana Baptist University, and he is the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." You can read more of his columns at www.rolandsmartin.com.

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the writer. E-mail to a friend E-mail to a friend

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