"None of the Above" takes a look at the 60% of eligible voters who choose not to vote. Many individual voters, politicians, and campaign staff are interviewed during the run-up to the 1996 presidential elections. Hosted by John Callaway, and featuring David Axelrod.
0:00Copy video clip URL Color bars, slate, count-in, titles.
1:05Copy video clip URL Collage of interviews with non-voters. “I really don’t think my votes count.” “I never liked politics.” “I’m just not voting because I’m not voting.” “I have never voted.” “I hope there’s enough of us that aren’t voting to make a statement to all of them.”
2:00Copy video clip URL John Callaway introduces subject of non-voting. Callaway introduces study by Medill School of Journalism and WTTW.
2:55Copy video clip URL Dwight Morris, who headed the study, says that non-voters are all across the board.
3:20Copy video clip URL Callaway introduces 5 Groups: “Doers” (optimistic, active, informed); “Unplugged” (young, pay little attention to politics); “Irritables” (skeptical, informed, middle-aged); “Don’t knows” (over 45, least informed); “Alienated” (feels out of touch, angry, pessimistic).
4:20Copy video clip URL Callaway introduces program, which tries to show just who non-voters are. He introduces guests, Senator Paul Simon, Michael Patrick Flannagan, former congressman, who lost after challenging Rostenkowski; other guests, as well.
5:48Copy video clip URL David Axelrod, a political consultant, says political research excludes people who say they probably won’t vote.
6:10Copy video clip URL Holly and Michael Bowser of a bay in California. Bowsers have memories of the hippie era, and are disillusioned by changes. They have three children and live in an ocean community.
7:15Copy video clip URL Bowser says what they called this in the ’60s was “drop out.” He says he doesn’t want anyone finding him, he just doesn’t want to be a part of the system. Holly Bowser says she doesn’t think her vote really counts at all. Michael Bowser says he’d prefer “honest dishonesty” over current politics.
8:44Copy video clip URL On Election Day, 1996, Holly Bowser says the day doesn’t feel different at all, except there seems to be some kinetic energy in the air. Michael Bowser: “I don’t think the government has the right to tell us ‘no.'” They reveal that they’re living on unemployment.
11:19Copy video clip URL Holly Bowser talks about having been homeless, and talks about getting by anyway. They reveal that they have no savings. She says she loves her community and the way they look out for one another. Even though he doesn’t vote, Michael says he would fight for the right. Holly says she doesn’t care.
13:17Copy video clip URL Clip of the first day South Africans could vote, in Cape Town. The people in Cape Town talk about their excitement over finally being able to participate. Voter turnout was 84%.
14:30Copy video clip URL Michael Bowser says that there’s nothing to vote for: voting for a single candidate involves signing up for many more causes than an individual could possibly agree with. They talk about their situation as a family, and talk about choosing not to work. Michael Bowser talks about not seeing any candidate in his social strata, who come to poor people once every four years for help.
18:14Copy video clip URL Michael Bowser reveals that he actually can’t vote because he once went to jail for cocaine possession. Holly rolls a cigarette.
19:10Copy video clip URL Michael goes shooting, after saying that his kids don’t play with guns. “There are some Americans who would be damned upset if they try to take their guns.” They say they will let their children decide on whether to vote for themselves.
20:15Copy video clip URL Michael P. Flanagan gives his response, taking offense to the theoretical “they.” Paul Simon takes exception to the suggestion that politicians literally take monetary bribes, but admits that campaign financing processes leave politicians obligated to their donors.
21:35Copy video clip URL Gene Tencza from Massachusetts says he has just never decided to vote. He says he’s just not interested enough in participating, and is fine with those who really care making the decisions.
22:20Copy video clip URL Tencza talks about moving to his farm and repairing it himself. He gives a tour of his property, showing how intricately he knows it. “I’m not protesting anything, like I said, I think the system works pretty good.” He says that he feels like he won’t make a difference because politicians will make promises, then forget them after the election.
24:20Copy video clip URL Tencza says he takes exception to the fact that the academic study of history being about politicians, rather than the people. He tells a cute story about a fellow schoolmate who decided he didn’t “like Ike” because his parents were Democrats.
26:00Copy video clip URL Professor John McKnight of Northwestern talks about the voting study. He says that the truth is that most people think things are going well. “One might say, when they think it’s broke, they’ll vote.” A female author from CUNY says that voting affirms a membership in the political community, in spite of the fact that a single vote may not make a difference.
27:00Copy video clip URL Tencza says checks and balances keep a president from doing anything too wrong or important. He shows his factory. He says he just doesn’t want to be interfered with by anyone else. A fellow toolmaker says that Union servicemen are mainly trained to vote. He says, “I spent a year in Vietnam so we do have a right to vote. I believe in it strong.” He talks to Gene about the importance of voting. “My way to participate is to be a good neighbor to the people who are living around me.”
30:25Copy video clip URL Gene talks to John Callaway in the panel room about problems with national debt, an issue that Gene Tencza has strong feelings on. Paul Simon backs up Tencza’s feelings, and suggests Gene should vote to let office holders know his opinions on things.
31:35Copy video clip URL Michael Bowser attacks Paul Simon for his role in governing. The Bowsers argue with Flanagan and Simon about politics.
32:55Copy video clip URL Joel Santa from Allentown, PA says he doesn’t care, and that politics are stupid, and that politics exist in a closed system. “I don’t really get affected by anything that happens in Washington or Harrrisburg.” He expresses the same idea that politicians’ promises are empty anyways. Linda Chavez-Thompson, President of the AFL-CIO, says politicians need to appeal to voters based on ethnic and social representation, and not just lip service. Professor Robert Putnam of Harvard University says activism is just disappearing.
35:54Copy video clip URL Professor John McKnight talks about huge drops in trust for politicians and people in positions of power.
36:25Copy video clip URL George Carlin gives a sarcastic rap onstage in support of non-voters, who can’t be held responsible for messed up conditions.
37:15Copy video clip URL Callaway introduces Michael Johnson, who works on the floor of the United Center, and who met the crew during the 1996 Democratic National Convention. Footage of convention.
37:55Copy video clip URL Johnson also speaks of politicians’ broken promises. “I don’t see anything they’ve done that’s worth voting for… Come to think of it, I don’t even know if my parents voted.” He says the whole point is to keep Americans in jobs. Michael’s girlfriend, Beverly Robinson, a voter, talks about seeing star politicians at the convention. Johnson says, “We’ve had nothing but white presidents.”
39:40Copy video clip URL “Some Democrats seem to be Republicans, some Republicans seem to be for the people. You have a donkey with an elephant nose, you see?” He says he understand the symbolism of the right to vote, but sees the political process as corrupt, anyway. He talks about what he does during the day, and talks about having 6 kids at the age of 34.
41:10Copy video clip URL Johnson says his hopes for his son are for him to be whatever he wants to be. He says that he hopes by the time his son grows up he can find someone worth voting for. He says he takes home $200 a week with no benefits.
42:50Copy video clip URL Johnson says that the Cook County Hospital is the only resort for medical care, so he tries to take care of himself.
43:45Copy video clip URL Johnson says that he was on disability at one point for alcohol problems, and his work provided treatment.
45:02Copy video clip URL Molly Ivins, Texas columnist, talks about “the great political power game,” something that actually affects human life.
46:05Copy video clip URL Johnson talks about being involved in a gang just for a sense of protection and belonging. He says in all of his participation there was never any serious violence. He said the police raided a house and he served five and a half months in jail. “It felt kinda good in a way, not having the worries of day to day struggle…” He talks about long term and short term goals.
48:10Copy video clip URL Callaway confronts Johnson about not voting. He says Martin Luther King gave the right to vote or not vote.
49:05Copy video clip URL Flanagan tells Johnson there is some responsibility to participate in democracy. He talks about running for office with no political experience. Johnson responds by pointing out the differences between Flanagan’s upbringing and his own, but agrees on the idea of not using a generalizing “we.”
50:50Copy video clip URL Callaway introduces Giovanna D’Agnello, an acting major who just finds her life too busy to bother with politics. She says she’d like to become more active but she just doesn’t really have the time, though she hopes she’ll be able to set some aside. “What’s important to me is I’m trying to get money for my head shots.”
53:55Copy video clip URL Giovanna says she just doesn’t see much of a difference from president to president. She says, “whenever there’s a new president, I hope that something’s going to change… I put in my two cents by being a good citizen… by helping the homeless when I can, by not littering, and the little things I can do to make this a better place.”
55:10Copy video clip URL A PSA by Joan Osborne about important issues in an upcoming election.
55:40Copy video clip URL Joe Lochran, a Chicago Police Officer, says when he’s out of uniform he always tries to convince people to vote.
56:10Copy video clip URL Alex Tobias, a student, says he doesn’t think it matters who’s in office, because big business and big money has the final say. “Which doesn’t mean I shouldn’t vote, I should still vote anyway.”
56:30Copy video clip URL A family who can’t vote because they were told they were at the wrong polling place, but not where the right polling place is. “And we really wanted to vote this year.”
56:45Copy video clip URL Brenda Walker, and other people talk about thinking voters are assholes. Steve Bowser, a member of the KKK says he’d love to see a KKK president. Troy Murphy of the KKK says that the KKK always votes, because it’s one way of legally making change.
57:35Copy video clip URL Frank Repass from New Orleans says he’s no radical liberal, but he’s comfortable living where black people live, and that he doesn’t have much tolerance for racism.
58:00Copy video clip URL Frank’s wife Cindy describes her husband as a hard worker. Courtney Wilson, an attorney, says Frank is “spiritually large, he embraces all New Orleans.”
59:00Copy video clip URL Frank says he has not voted for 10 years and doesn’t care who wins. He says he cares about politics but for his own reasons does not vote.
59:50Copy video clip URL Cindy Repass says that New Orleans is a scary place to live. Frank says he wants his children to see poverty and hardship, but also go to good schools. Frank Repass says he sends his children to a private school, because a good education can’t be gotten in the public school across the street from his house.
1:01:05Copy video clip URL Four reasons: 1) he doesn’t like people who run for office; 2) believes they rarely tell the public truth about issues; 3) he doesn’t think someone should win unless 50% of the population vote for them; 4) he says he wants change to take place in a more grass-roots method.
1:02:00Copy video clip URL Frank talks about raising his kids to be aware of voting.
1:02:40Copy video clip URL Frank says he’d vote for a teacher for president. He says they’re the most important people in his life. He doesn’t like the way racial politics are used in the city. Cindy talks about the effects of liberal politicians being different than their intentions.
1:04:19Copy video clip URL Callaway questions Frank about why he doesn’t vote locally if he cares so much about his community. He says it’s probably just laziness. “I love classical music, especially music from the baroque period. Church music.” He shows his weekly chess game.
1:06:20Copy video clip URL Cindy says she hoped to be a minister, and both Cindy and Frank are very active in the local church. Frank talks about burial practices in New Orleans, where bodies are buried above ground and the graves are re-used when the caskets deteriorate.
1:08:30Copy video clip URL Molly Ivins, Michael Bowser, John McKnight, Michael Johnson, and others give their summation remarks. Bowser: “I’m always hopeful, because this is America.”
1:09:45Copy video clip URL Callaway talks to Senator Paul Simon about his opinions on the need to vote. Paul Simon talks about voting as the only way to get change. Simon responds by saying that voters need to be more educated. Michael Bowser gets off on a tangent about legalizing drugs.
1:12:50Copy video clip URL Michael Flanagan talks about the importance of voting in politicians who support your own views of the actual voting process. Flanagan and Simon take on the crowd, and Bowser attacks Flanagan again.
1:17:50Copy video clip URL Frank Repass says that he takes exception to the fact that the political system creates a ruling class, a ruling profession. Paul Simon and Flanagan respond. Johnson responds to Bowser’s comments about legalizing drugs and guns, saying it isn’t safe in the hood.
1:24:20Copy video clip URL Callaway gives a final wrap-up question, and nobody who was interviewed was approached by a politician looking for a vote. Flanagan and Simon point out how simple voting is, and how much difference it makes one more time. Callaway gives a short wrap-up.
1:26:20Copy video clip URL End credits. Paul Simon talks over credits about cynicism towards politicians increasing while standard of living has gone up.
1:27:40Copy video clip URL End of tape.