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The Choice: Election 2012 by Nathaniel Tower

Typically, I don’t find advertisements effective. I’ve never bought Doritos because of their slapstick Super Bowl ads. I’ve never bought Budweiser because of their inspirational stories about unlikely donkeys and underdog Clydesdales rising through the ranks. I don’t buy lingerie from Victoria’s Secret in hopes my wife will look like those airbrushed and wind-blown models.  And I’ve been especially unturned by political commercials. At least until now.

USA Today’s latest commercial, with the slogan about who will really elect the President, has been successful in convincing me not to vote at all.  You see, I live in Missouri, and we all know Missouri is one of those red states.

If you haven’t seen the commercial, it shows a map of the U. S., each state partitioned off by a group of voters wearing shirts colored according to that state’s voting preference.

Once we get a clear picture of the crowded map, the blue and red shirts all march away, leaving a handful of “undecided” states scattered behind. According to the commercial, these are the “people” who will choose our next president (not that they really elect the president either—most of us know that it’s really done by a set of people who make the final decision for us because we’re too stupid to be trusted; and maybe we are).


Electoral College debates aside, the commercial makes it clear: if you live in Missouri, your vote does not count. Your state has already pledged its allegiance to the GOP candidate.

So now I am faced with a brutal decision. Do I give up my duty as a citizen, knowing that I can’t make a difference? Or do I forge on anyway, hanging onto some vague notion of hope?

On Election Day, I can head to the polls, scurry past the electioneers standing just in front of the “no electioneers past this point” sign, wait in line, watch as elderly volunteers lick their fingers to assist in the separation of pages, and cast my vote on a computerized screen (or I can still choose that old-school paper option that caused so many problems a few elections ago). With that computer gazing at me, I can pick my state’s loser, either hoping for a miracle or just trying to make a statement. Or I can choose the winner and walk away proud that I voted for a champ (but maybe not proud of who I actually “elected”).

Or I can save myself the trouble and not vote at all. After all, I already know who’s going to win my state.

Thank you, USA Today. You’ve saved me some time. I’m a busy guy. I’ve never missed a Presidential election before, but I’ve never exactly felt satisfied after casting my vote. Now I don’t have to bother. You have truly informed me. And that was your goal after all, wasn’t it?

Nathaniel Tower writes fiction, teaches English, and manages the online lit magazine Bartleby Snopes. His short fiction has appeared in over 100 online and print magazines and has been nominated for the Pushcart Prize. His story “The Oaten Hands” was named one of 190 notable stories by storySouth’s Million Writers Award in 2009. His first novel, A Reason To Kill, was released in July 2011 through MuseItUp Publishing. Visit him at