Feb 022004
Authors: Shannon Baldwin

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

own ideologies.

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.

 Posted by at 5:00 pm

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