Archive for Thursday, November 2, 2000

Where has all the timber gone?

November 2, 2000

In four days, we'll choose a new leader of the Free World. We'll select the new Grand Poobah who will lead us into the New Millennium with promises of world peace, cut taxes and unlimited three-day weekends.

I have four days to decide.

The clock is ticking.

And, for the life of me, I have no idea whom to vote for.

I watched the debates ... tried to, at least. After the first one, I heard nothing new in the second or third so I channel surfed between battling politicians and the Subway Series.

I don`t think I missed anything pertinent while I was away from either event. Saw the bat-throwing incident on one channel and two guys who wished they could throw bats at each other on the other.

Still, I`m undecided -- on the election, that is. Those New York Yankees might go down as one of the best teams of all time.

OK, back to my indecisiveness. You see, I'm that guy you've heard about. I'm the Democrat in eastern Kansas.

I`ve been laying low the last few years. I know there were rumors that I moved to more liberal grounds -- that I packed my bags and moved westward -- a sudden shift to the left -- but it's not true.

Still, when it comes to a presidential election, I don't believe you should automatically vote according to party affiliation. You have to weigh all the facts, consider the issues and vote for the best man.

The trouble is, three debates have done little to separate one man as best. One guy is stiff and the other says little.

This brings up an interesting topic: Where are all the qualified presidential candidates in this country? Did the forest that once grew tall, sturdy presidential timber burn down in one of those annual wild fires that destroys thousands of acres each year?

I'll vote for one of them.

I'm just not sure which one yet.

My Democrat candidate has done little to impress me this campaign season. He has managed to distance himself from his current boss, but that has only gone to show that loyalty is not one of his strong suits.

Meanwhile, the Republican candidate is no great shakes, either.

Hard to believe, this is my sixth presidential election -- a far cry from my first when I was young, naive and believed that my vote really did matter.

I suppose it does matter.

I mean, if everyone believed voting wasn't important, we'd have what is known as voter apathy - low turnout - and the fate of millions would be decided by a scant few, relatively speaking.

We all know that could never happen here.Voting is a right never to be taken for granted.

But I was thinking about my first presidential election the other day. I had the choice of the former actor from California or the incumbent, a peanut farmer from Georgia who had allowed during his tenure a third-world country to take dozens of U.S. citizens and hold them hostage for weeks and weeks.

So, you ask, for which did I vote?

Neither.

Young and naive, I told you.

It should be pointed out that I wasn't a Democrat at that time.

When I turned 18, I registered to vote right after I registered for the draft (another act of power made by the peanut farmer). I didn't know if I was a donkey or an elephant so I checked the box marked "Independent."

I equated it to college football. Notre Dame was an independent and its voice was heard loud and clear. Little did I realize there was something called the Independent Party (I guess I shouldn't have slept during high school civics class).

My candidate was a man named John Anderson, who methinks was the Ralph Nader of his time. He worked hard to win the vote of the young people by advertising on rock and roll radio stations.

I'll never forget his campaign slogan: "A vote for John Anderson is ... a vote for John Anderson."

I was too dumb to realize a vote for John Anderson was a wasted vote. It was like taking your ballot, setting a match to it and watching it burn before your eyes.

I became a Democrat shortly thereafter at the urging of a woman I had known all my life. It seems I lived in a town that was 90 percent Democrat and it was my inherent duty to follow suit.

I did. And I watched as a steady stream of candidates crashed and burned.

Jimmy Carter. Walter Mondale. Michael Dukakis. The man in office now has made mistakes. Plenty of them, in fact. I can`t defend him, nor will I. However, I'm also not hypocritical enough to condemn him, either.

He tarnished the title, but to say he did irreparable damage to it is ludicrous.

A new man in office -- the right man -- can make us forget past shortcomings from the Oval Office. I just hope the right man wins and when someone figures out who that right man is, I hope they will quickly let me know.

The time is drawing near.

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