Oct 272004
Authors: Joe Marshall

It’s twilight in the labyrinth of smoke and mirrors.

Tuesday America takes to the polls in a referendum of its

current president. In a contest that literally could not be any

closer, young voters are likely to turn out on Nov. 2 in numbers

not seen since the passage of Amendment 26 and the 1972

presidential election.

When combined with our impressionability, our mobile lifestyle

makes measurement of our political leanings difficult for

pollsters. In what has already become one of American history’s

greatest political battles, we have the honor of being the


Whereas it is a right and a duty, every American who is eligible

to vote should do so.

Along with exercising such a right, however, comes the

responsibility to make an informed decision. In order to do this,

one must come to terms with the fact that both candidates,

including the one you favor, will say, do and promise anything to


The very idea of an informed vote, when pursued through the fog

of a political campaign, is almost unimaginable. Making an informed

decision means not falling victim to political deception as well as

overcoming personal misconceptions about the president’s


The president of the United States oversees the application and

enforcement of U.S. government policy – foreign and domestic,

economic and social. Simply put, he is the executor of America’s

will, not the creator.

Both candidates act as though they can change the world

overnight. What neither candidate dare admit, however, is how much

control the president doesn’t have over many of the most heated

issues. Some issues, such as spending and reform of government

programs, are largely the responsibility of Congress. Others, such

as our predicament in Iraq, require a specific, methodical remedy

in order to produce peace.

The economy is the most influential part of any president’s

approval or damnation of which he has little real control. The

basic economic policy pursued by the U.S. government is, contrary

to what political parties would like voters to believe, perhaps the

most consistent bipartisan pursuit in American politics.

In down times, spending increases and taxes decrease to prop up

and stimulate the economy. In good times, the opposite takes place

in order to keep growth manageable. All of this is a task belonging

to Congress.

While the president’s administration does draft the preliminary

federal budget for each fiscal year, Congress dissects, revises and

then approves it. The president does not create laws, nor does he

make appointments or treaties without the approval of the


Listen to President Bush when he lists his administration’s

accomplishments over the past four years; he always begins with

“we,” as in “Congress and me.” Even if Sen. John Kerry wins the

election, he will still be tied to a Republican Congress.

If, therefore, Bush and Kerry have little power over most major

policy issues in which they disagree and would take the same basic

approach to the problems over which they have control, how should

you vote?

This election will be a pivotal point in our history not because

of the economy, our foreign policy or the hype. It will be

enormously important because U.S. Chief Justice William Rehnquist

was recently diagnosed with thyroid cancer. Over the next four

years, as many as three Supreme Court justices might retire.

Unlike the economy or the future course of Iraq, the president

has a great deal of control over appointments to the Supreme


Research each candidate’s position on the following five issues:

abortion, gay marriage, education reform, the Patriot Act and

mandatory minimum sentencing for nonviolent crimes.

After doing the research, decide for each individual issue who

you agree with most. Whom you sided with three or more times is

whom should you vote for Tuesday, no matter how you feel about

taxes or al-Qaida.

Make an informed decision based on your convictions, not your

wallet and definitely not your fears.







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