It's time for voters to get their heads in the game

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 week, and that has me all wound up.

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 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 billion a day, and we don't have any clue when it will end, and we have more things to be concerned with?

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

We've got 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 HDTV 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 friggin' 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 I'm 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 really get to know Sens. Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, former Sens. John Edwards and Fred Thompson, former Mayor Rudy Giuliani of New York 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 an award-winning CNN contributor and the author of "Listening to the Spirit Within: 50 Perspectives on Faith." Please visit his Web site at . To find out more about Roland S. Martin and read his past columns, visit the Creators Syndicate Web page at .

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