Good morning, everybody. I've come here to join forces with Senator Wendell Ford, who's the chairman of the Senate reelection committee, with Jim Corman, who's the chairman of the same committee in the House, and with Chairman John White, who heads the Democratic National Party.
One of the most important things that we can do as Americans is to encourage people to participate in our government processes. But during the last 20 years, there's been an alarming and an unprecedented reduction in the inclination of American people to participate in their own government processes. They've stopped voting. And this is a very serious indictment of our own process of encouraging people to control their own affairs.
In 1950, two-thirds of the American people voted. In 1978, so far, twothirds of the American people have not voted. Of all the nations on Earth who permit their citizens to vote, we are number one in nonparticipation. There is no other country that approaches the United States in citizens not participating in the choosing of their own leaders.
Our very Nation's government basis was that leaders should govern with the consent of the governed, that laws should be made by the consent of the governed. And in our country lately, the trend has been away from this commitment. There are many reasons for it. Some have been because of disillusionment evolving from the war, from Watergate. Some of the reasons have been because American citizens don't think their voice makes a difference.
My wife was in Ohio this past week, and in the last several Governors elections and in also the Presidential elections, the outcome was determined by one vote per precinct. So, every citizen's voice should and does count.
Americans realize, I believe, as a body, that the future is important. And they recognize that leaders like the President of the United States and Members of the Senate, Members of Congress, Governors, mayors, have a responsibility.
Part of my responsibility the next 4 weeks will be to encourage Americans to take part in the election process. We've organized now and will implement, beginning today, a 4 weeks' crusade among Democratic Party officials—Senator Ford, Jim Corman, John White, and others-a crusade to get people to participate.
I have asked my family members, my Cabinet members, and local and State officials throughout the country to join in this effort. During the last few days before the November vote, I'll make a personal commitment of several days to encourage people to participate in the process, as the President of our country.
We have a need to remind people, "If you don't vote, you're the loser." "If you don't vote, you are the loser"—that will be our slogan. That will be the motivation for my own effort. And I hope that we can correct one of the most serious defects in the democratic system of our Nation. I think our government will be better if our people participate in choosing our leaders and if the leaders of the government at different levels know that the people care who we are and what we do.
Our government's strength is derived directly from the people themselves, and I hope that this effort will be successful.
After I leave, Senator Ford and Congressman Corman, Chairman White will explain the details of our effort. But I would like to ask the news media, particularly, to publicize the fact that our Nation's strength does depend upon participation of people in the government process on election day and subsequent to that, and that if they don't vote, then they, the individual voters, are the losers.
Thank you very much.