Bush, Gore causing snores
Candidate dullness, not apathy will cause low voter turnout at the polls Nov. 7
By Travis Metcalfe
Daily Texan Columnist
In his book If the Gods had meant us to vote they would have given us Candidates
, Jim Hightower quotes former Vice-President Dan Quayle saying, "A low
voter turnout is an indication of fewer people going to the polls."
turnout is particularly serious among younger people, with only 32
percent of 18 to 24 year olds voting in the 1996 election, and similar
numbers are expected this year. Politicians take this to be a sign of
apathy, but maybe the two major presidential candidates are so
incredibly dull that we would rather stay home than cast a meaningless
vote for someone who doesn't address issues that matter to us.
Nader was right when he predicted that voters would "fall asleep in
front of their TV sets" if they were forced to watch "the drab debate
the dreary." The three 90-minute campaign advertisements, sponsored by
the private bipartisan Commission on Presidential Debates and paid for
by corporations, were tedious at best. The non-debates hit their lowest
point during the October 11th show when Gush and Bore used a variant of
the phrase "I agree with you" 12 times and expressed some form of
agreement an additional 28 times.
Moderator Jim Lehrer
pleaded desperately with the candidates to succinctly outline their
differences in policy. This only encouraged them to detail exhaustively
the minutia of their competing visions, which was the only place
differences could be found. "Is there any difference?" Lehrer asked. "I
haven't heard a big difference right in the last few exchanges," said
Gore. "Well, I think it's hard to tell," Bush replied. No kidding.
third show on October 17th was the closest thing to a debate that
happened this year, largely because the "Town Hall" style allowed real
voters to ask real questions. Someone asked the candidates why they
thought young people weren't more interested in politics. Gore
responded first: "Sometimes people who are very idealistic and have
great dreams, as young people do, are apt to stay at arm's length from
the political process, because they think their good hearts might be
brittle, and if they invest their hopes and allow themselves to
believe, then they're going to be let down and disappointed." Which is
to say, because their expectations are too high.
Bush replied: "A lot of people are sick and tired of the bitterness in
Washington, D.C., and therefore they don't want any part of politics.
They look at Washington and see people pointing fingers and casting
blame and saying one thing and doing another. There's a lot of young
folks saying, you know, 'Why do I want to be involved with this mess?'"
In other words, because they have low expectations. Finally, they
disagreed on something.
The most maddening aspect of
the entire charade was that it could have been really interesting had
Ralph Nader been there, which is precisely why he was excluded by the
two-party duopoly despite the fact that the majority of Americans
wanted to see him participate. He could have brought up issues that
really matter to young people. But they were never discussed because
the major candidates both agree on the death penalty, genetically
altered foods, the flawed missile defense system, corporate
globalization, a living wage, and the failed war on drugs to name a
few. Even worse, no independent debates between Gore and Nader are
possible because Gore's agreement with Bush stipulates that he can only
participate in the three official debates, and no more.
we are condemned until November 7th to listen to Tweedle Dum and
Tweedle Dumber talk about nothing of consequence. It could be worse. At
least in the end we can cast a vote for Ralph Nader and hope that he
builds the Green Party enough by 2004 to save us from having to suffer
through another election like this one.
Metcalfe is a doctoral student in the Department of Astronomy