by Chris Nielsen
Ok, every young American reading this commentary who still believes in the political system, raise your hand. Nice to see there are a few idealists left. I’m not, though. And don’t think I haven’t tried.
I was all about voting this year, especially since it was the first year I legally could. I was also all about encouraging others to do the same. I thought to myself “Hey, this seems like a damn close election. Maybe each vote really will make a difference this year. Maybe MTV was right. Rock the Vote, baby!”
Well, lots of people did vote this year, including a handful of actual Cabrini students. Voting is a pain in the bum for us, too, because most of us have to drive a distance home to cast our ballots. Maybe some of us actually went through the whole absentee ballot process, but I kind of doubt it. I’m disillusioned, remember?
My problem is not even with the candidates. I don’t think that George W. Bush (who I do expect to be the next president) is as vacuous as David Letterman would have us believe. And even if Gore isn’t the most charismatic, or interesting, vice president we’ve ever seen, he had my vote. Yeah, he’s a sneaky guy, and I think he’d do anything to win. But I do think we would have been in capable hands had he been elected.
But I wanted John McCain, the “Straight Talk” Vietnam vet who made the wrong people in the Republican Party squirm. He connected with young Americans like no other candidate in this election could ever dream. McCain was cool, not “Slick Willy Clinton” kind of cool, but “Screw the man, I’ve got a message” cool. Thousands of young Americans are now familiar with campaign finance reform, the hot button issue that made him a favorite of the common folk and an enemy of his own political party.
Then I wanted Ralph Nader because he is an original. The presidental candidate of the Green Party, Nader was different. He’s anti-death penalty, which I dig. His plans for Social Security are a lot less severe than Bush’s, which I find alarming. But more than that, he’s a thinker. He seems like the only candidate who is more adept at preventing emergency situations than reacting to them.
But no one took him seriously, and in the long run neither did I. “A vote for Nader is just a vote for Bush” became a popular warning to all those who considered Nader less a legitimate candidate than a spoiler for Gore’s chances.
This whole election had so much potential last year. Remember Bill Bradley, Donald Trump, Warren Beatty, Pat Buchanan, and of course McCain? They were all considered candidates, some more seriously than others. And who did we end up with? We still don’t know! And by now, most of us don’t really care.
Personally, I find the prospect of the Republican Party controlling the presidency, the Senate and the House of Representatives to be frightening. Plus, our next president will get to pic a few Supreme Court justices. Now I realize that bickering between the two parties can be a problem, but I am much more alarmed at the prospect of a conservative dynasty.
By the time that the votes in Florida and the absentee ballots and the military votes and the votes that were supposedly for Gore that went to Buchanan are counted, we will finally elect a new man to be the leader of the free world. And we can all breathe a sigh of relief because it will be another four years before we have to put up with all this nonsense again.