With all the recent buzz about the proposed academic bill of
rights, it is inevitable that one will wonder about which side of
the strict American political dichotomy one belongs. Sure, you may
think you are different and belong to one of those feisty little
alternative parties, but when it comes down to a neck-and-neck
race, you know that you have to throw your lot in with one of the
big players, or it is a “wasted” vote.
So which is it going to be? Does your candidate have a (D) or an
(R) by his name? Are you a Liberal or a Conservative -or do you
even really know what that means? No, no! Stop complicating things
by trying to think outside the designated boxes. Just pick a side
and root for it like you would a Super Bowl team. If you insist on
aligning with one of those “other” parties, don’t forget that (G)’s
vote for (D); (L)’s vote for (R) and (I)’s vote for the quarterback
with the best smile.
Okay, so maybe you’re not completely sold on the seeming “if
your not for us, your against us” political structure. How are you
possibly going to compare the candidates on all the issues that
matter to you?
What if you don’t have the stomach to listen to all the
political campaign speeches? It’s doubtful that you would actually
be able to glean much useful information through all the glitz and
yahoo anyway (Mr. Dean, how exactly do you spell that word?).
President Bush’s State of the Union address – with all the emphasis
on more federal government growth and not a word about cutting
programs – sounded more (D) than (R) in the traditional definitions
of those party lines.
What’s a voter to do? Try logging onto www.presidentmatch.com, a
site sponsored by AOL and TIME (take that for what it’s worth). The
site gives several options for those who want to look beyond the
party affiliation and find out which candidate is closest to their
The home page gives two options for comparing the 2004
candidates (from the two big parties -sorry Nader, they won’t be
adding third-party candidates till after the primaries). One is a
compare guide that lets you select the candidates you wish for a
side-by-side matchup. This selection starts with the basics of
party affiliation, military service and if they have ever held an
elected office. It then scrolls down a long laundry list of the
hottest issues – from education and the environment to health care
and the war in Iraq – facing the candidates today and rates them on
how strongly each is for or against certain types of
The other option on the home page is a question-and-answer guide
on issues, after which the site will then list the candidates in
order of compatibility with your beliefs. Each question can be
answered with varying degrees of importance to you and how strongly
you feel about the issue. This selection takes more time than the
comparison, as there are several different questions on the gamut
of issues voters seem to care most about.
At the very least, it will allow you to sit down and actually
evaluate what your ideologies are and why you believe the way you
do. Maybe you will find that some of your beliefs actually cross
over those precious party lines. And you may be surprised just who
is on your own party train and who isn’t.
For me, it doesn’t look my 100 percent match is going to even
make it to the presidential Super Bowl in November, but that
doesn’t mean I’m not going to root for my ideological runner-up. So
hand me a ballot and some guacamole. This year should prove to be a
very interesting game.
Only without the funny commercials.
Shannon is a senior majoring in technical journalism. Her column
runs every other Tuesday.