Moving past bitterness

Beyond the bitterness, the partisan squabbling and the vicious
political attacks, the presidential election of 2004 will be
remembered as one that made people care about politics again. Both
parties registered a record number of new voters, often from the
ranks of young people and minorities, two groups with a politically
apathetic history.

Maybe it was because people just saw more at stake than usual.
Embodying such wildly different ideologies, the two candidates had
opposing stands on just about everything from how to fight the war
on terrorism to how to improve America’s schools.

Maybe the bitterness lay in the personal nature of the election
and its issues. Having a son or daughter in the military, losing a
job or knowing someone who is gay, among a plethora of other
topics, can help the politics to really hit home.

For whatever the reasons, this was an election that split
families down the middle, and pitted father against son, generation
against generation. It was as though an entirely new culture was
created. Terms that had once been reserved to the most political
among us, like “Gallup,” became household buzzwords,
while elephants and donkeys were emblematic of much more than
safari or petting zoo attractions.

— Mara Gay

 

Where do we go from here?

This election has occupied my mind daily for the past year, and
all I can consistently do is give some shrug-exasperated hand
gesture-jaw dropped-motion. What is left to say? This is the
biggest election in history? We’ve seen the ads for months
— the Swift boats, the Wolves, the American flags and smiling
babies — and if the ads weren’t enough, the debate and
news coverage on the ads. Yet these campaigns, though glossy and
glorious, missed how utterly dire and direction-changing the
results of this election will be. There are no words to express
this. The election brought out the best and worst in our country.
More people participated in the democratic process —
thousands of new registered voters — and “November
2” was burned on people’s brains for weeks. Yet
yesterday, we also witnessed disgusting incidents of voter
intimidation: people still tried to tell out-of-state students they
were ineligible to vote in Ann Arbor, and some Detroit residents
received letters on their doors telling them, incorrectly, that
their polling location had been changed. Empowerment v.
Intimidation. Reason v. Religion. The Enlightenment v. The Dark
Age. Left v. Right. Dare I say, Kerry v. Bush?

— Sara Eber

 

Hollywood Politics

Prior to this election, I had the naïve notion that
mudslinging was a sacred ritual that would only make its comeback
if there were a third installment of Woodstock. I guess we were all
treated with an early Christmas present this election with both
Democrats and Republicans resorting to unprecedented lows with
distasteful attacks and utterly ridiculous endorsements. Hollywood
celebrities and the Swift boat veterans should be admonished for
their incessant attempts to spin the facts to convince undecided,
impressionable minds to vote their way.

The celebrities whose faces grace our movies suddenly found a
way into our television sets as a part of a slew of Kerry
endorsements. A personal favorite of mine was Rebecca
Romain-Stamos’s picking up a middle-aged man in the middle of
the desert and convincing him to vote Kerry … just
ridiculous. But then who could forget veterans who weren’t
even on Kerry’s Swift boat that tried to convince us Kerry
was a disgraced soldier? Hopefully politics will regain some ethics
before we see the Libertarians or Greens getting into the mix.

— Dan Skowronski

 

Turning to entertainment

Certain factors that have never been prevalent in past elections
have proved integral in this year’s presidential campaign.
Sen. John Kerry utilized entertainment programs as well as
celebrity supporters in order to connect with the college-aged
voting demographic through their most favored source for news.
During his campaign, Kerry has made appearances on “The Daily
Show with John Stewart” and “The Tonight Show”
and has spoken with MTVNews on five separate occasions. In
addition, Kerry received celebrity endorsements and included a few,
Bruce Springsteen for example, in his campaign to further appeal to
young voters. Kerry’s concentration on the entertainment
media outlet has proven his care for Americans of the young
demographic and has subsequently resulted in a voter registration
surge among such youth.

—Katherine Cantor

 

Dean: paving the way for Kerry

Remember Howard Dean? What a remarkable story his campaign was
until falling apart in the Iowa caucuses. Dean represented
“the Democratic wing of the Democratic Party” and by
doing so dragged most of his opponents farther and farther to the
left as they sought votes from Democrats around the country. First,
by making Sen. John Kerry break federal spending caps, then by
moving him to the left in order to gain votes, much of the Dean
campaign lived on in Kerry’s campaign for the presidency.
This resulted in some of the instances of Kerry’s “flip
flopping,” which may have cost him the general election as
more Americans believe Kerry says what people want to hear. With
his Iowa scream, Dean handed Kerry the nomination, but he also gave
him some ideals and positions that Kerry has never seemed to be
quite comfortable with.

— David Russell

 

How did this happen?

So much has changed in this country, but nothing changed in the
way Americans voted. Despite a new war, controversial social
issues, and pressing economic problems — this country seems
to have opted for the same decision as 2000: George W. Bush. How
did we let this happen? Shouldn’t the state of the country be
enough to instigate a change in government? The economy is
struggling, 1,121 troops have died in Iraq, and progressive ideas
regarding science research, gay marriage and womens’ rights
are being halted for religious reasons. America can do better, had
the chance to do better, and gave it up in last night’s
election. This time, there was no discrepancy. It was clear on the
map that Kerry’s small blue states would not be enough to win
him the election — America wanted George Bush.

Perhaps more disturbing is that nothing changed in the amount of
young voters who went to the polls. Contrary to the prediction that
the 18-24 age range could sway the election due to mass turnout,
once again our age group failed to step up to the plate. Exactly
the same as in 2000, young voters made up just 17 percent of the
vote.

The Democrats put up a good fight, but it was not enough to
overcome the fear of change that pervades this country.
Here’s to four more years of war, a struggling economy, and
waiting with bated breath to see if our rights will be taken. Here
is to four more years of George W. Bush.

— Whitney Dibo

 

Ohio sux

I wasn’t at all surprised when the GOP decided that it
would single out homosexuals for political oppression and abuse; in
recent years, the Republican party has often fallen back on
demonizing whole groups of Americans in order to stabilize its
religious base. What is truly shocking, however, are the millions
of fiscal conservatives that pulled the lever for Bush and others
in spite of this nationwide campaign of hate.

If being fiscally conservative means voting economically
conservative and socially progressive, those of you who voted for
Bush have a lot of explaining to do. Millions of self professed
fiscal conservatives pulled the lever for Bush yesterday, despite
an economic agenda that is hardly conservative, and a social agenda
that is laced with intolerance.

I suspect that it was this issue, gay marriage, that really
helped carry the day for Bush. Certainly the war played a huge
part, but I think we all underestimated just how powerful hatred is
as a political tool and just how much America hates homosexuals. I
know I certainly did. I also know that as the polls came rolling in
— as Michigan and several other states voted to ban gay
marriage, as the GOP increased its stranglehold on the U.S. Senate
and as the Kerry campaign died somewhere in rural Ohio — that
I have never felt this hopeless in America. Maybe I’m just
tired. Maybe this is just sour grapes. But ultimately, I think
America, and in particular the red states, have an awful lot of
growing up to do.

— Daniel Adams

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