An Election That Can’t Come Soon Enough

Brandon Genalo

Mercifully, the end is near. In this, the last week, of the soul-sucking presidential campaign of 2004, I hope there will a last-minute reversion to the coverage of issues to savor the final gasps of a wheezing election year. It, like Jacob Marley, seemed dead to begin with, after months of President George W. Bush, the cartoon, and Senator John Kerry, the marionette, spewing obnoxiously repetitive rhetoric at us about war, same-sex marriage, war, prescription drugs and war. But it was still more tolerable than absurdities reported on from the campaign trail. My favorite nonsense story is about cries from both parties over voter intimidation. What makes this so much fun is the ways we, the voters, are apparently being bullied: break-ins at campaign headquarters, robberies, tarnishing of lawn signs, slashed tires, protests, breaking of windows, eggings, smashing of mailboxes, graffiti and, of course, shootings. Yes, across America, we are resorting to such ridiculous acts to secure a victory for our candidates. While this certainly shows the United States populace has lost some of its rationality, the reactions of Democrats and Republicans alike to this senselessness is equally disturbing. Instead of cooperating for once to say, “You people are making a mockery of yourselves and the political process, so just stop before we hit you all over the head with the lawn signs you are destroying,” they shouted bloody murder. Republican National Committee (RNC) spokeswoman Christine Iverson isn’t sure whether the Democrats have “an organized effort or not,” but does know that “clearly these are attacks targeted at Republican voters, which attempt to intimidate them into not expressing their views and participating in the political process.” The Bush campaign has even published a “timeline of protests, violence and intimidation against Bush-Cheney ’04.” The Kerry campaign countered with their own such list. The Democratic National Committee (DNC) and RNC never overlook an opportunity to viciously assail their opponents, but it has gone beyond too far. I would like to believe that after Watergate, both parties decided that conspiracies aimed at sabotage isn’t the most effective way to win voters’ hearts. And that if they ever did return that route, they could devise something better than eggings and tire slashings. To drive down voter turnout – as if it weren’t low enough – I would suggest raining frogs, biblical style. The animosity between the parties is approaching epic proportions. If they can make such a dumb issue into partisan finger pointing, can they ignore anything? Will bickering over this organize the masses to do anything? Or, will it have the same effect on most people as it does on me: increase cynicism? This comes shortly after the spar between Teresa Heinz-Kerry and Laura Bush, in which Heinz-Kerry claimed Bush never held “a real job.” This is one of those things I wonder why people say or why other people care. Does it matter what Teresa’s Heinz-Kerry’s personal impression of Laura Bush is? Not only that, it turns out she was wrong; Laura Bush has held “real” jobs, but the Republicans were equipped with another response anyway. They reminded Heinz-Kerry that being a mother is a real job. Okay … I’m not entirely sure what that is supposed to mean, but we’ll go with it. Seriously, though, who cares about any of this? There must have been something politically-oriented that could have been discussed during this time. And if not, maybe, just maybe, we could have gone a day without having dumb election stories forced in front of our faces. We have managed to turn campaigns into something resembling The Real World. All we need is the confessionals. Imagine John Edwards sitting in front the camera bitter and teary-eyed, ranting about Dick Cheney. I understand that election season drags interminably on, and we can listen to President Bush discuss “staying the course” so many times. So, we become interested in their wives’ lives and the fates of their lawn signs. In my opinion, it makes far more sense to try to force the candidates into talking about some new topics – something beyond 10 second radio clips would be preferable. Like a complete stance on civil rights issues or education or a detailed plan for health care. Getting back the voter intimidation fiasco, the story has one last, awful element. Fifty House Republicans, led by Representative Tom Feeney of Florida, requested that Attorney General John Ashcroft investigate “a plan to intimidate volunteers who were supporting their candidate.” Ugh. I don’t even know how to respond to this. I feel like smashing my head against a wall. So this presidential campaign is somewhere between dirty and stupid. This is a very troubling trend. Our society has become so inundated with campaigns, that it is oversaturated. The people will continue to be less involved in politics as long as politics continues to appeal to the lowest common denominator. It is a plague that is sullying our presidential campaigns. At least a plague of raining frogs would be more fun.