U.S. politics: Absurdity in action

    Whoa! Apparently there’s some sort of election coming up. Who knew? I guess I haven’t watched TV, listened to the radio, passed by Library Walk or even stepped outside for the past six months. OK, make that a year. I don’t get out much, okay?

    I jest, of course. In fact, I am a huge political nerd. I read political Web sites, newspapers, articles and books like they’re the newest issue of Cosmopolitan, and eat up the presidential debates like they were chocolate. I even worked for a political party this summer (I’m from the Bay area and have less than five American flags on my car; I bet you can guess which one). I loved the job because it afforded a valuable opportunity to hold onto the naive belief that I can make a difference in the world. Also, it let Republicans threaten me with death while I was alone and unarmed, and apparently they get a real kick out of that (or at least I think they do, judging from their copious drooling and huge grins as they pointed their shotguns at me).

    One night, as my liberal scum co-workers and I scarfed down Thai food after a full day’s work, two men working for the Republicans overheard our conversation and introduced themselves as “The Enemy.”

    Needless to say, much finger-snapping and choreographed dance fighting ensued.

    Also needless to say, we routed them. Our sheer numbers overrode our status as spineless flower-sniffing hippies. Also, inbred Republican hacks are terrible fighters.

    Of course, in reality, the most intense bout of verbal sparring ever occurred. We won handily. As I said, inbred Republican hacks are terrible fighters.

    I recount this incident to illustrate that America is, indeed, bitterly divided between the two parties — and that I, even as a liberal who professes to value tolerance and open-mindedness, am totally, hypocritically, intolerant of Republican beliefs. Just look at my obvious hatred toward those who don’t agree with me! Why, I should be cast out of our great country, or something.

    But I’d also like to illustrate an even more sinister trait of the country’s current political discourse. A typical conversation about the candidates’ stances on important issues goes something like this:

    KERRY FAN: You know, I really don’t agree with most things Bush has done during his term, and Kerry’s stances really seem to match mine a lot better. He’s pro-choice, doesn’t think religion should factor into political decisions, supports stem cell research, has a more realistic plan for Iraq and wants to give tax cuts to the middle class, instead of just to the rich. He totally has my vote.

    KERRY SKEPTIC: But … Terrorism! Osama! Saddam! Weapons of mass destruction!

    (FORMER) KERRY FAN: Oh, man, thanks for reminding me. I’m totally gonna vote for Bush! He’s got the bravery it takes to stand up to those terrorist killers. Fuck Kerry, that commie bastard! We’ve got to kick some ass!

    See? Turning a Kerry fan into a FORMER Kerry fan is as easy as pulling out that Republican trump card, terrorism. Sadly, I’m not kidding, or even exaggerating. I’ve talked to dozens of Bush fans, and all but one of them cited terrorism as the main — and, more often than not, sole — reason they were voting for Bush. Recent academic research has borne out this fact. The majority of Americans view Democrats as more adept handlers of all domestic affairs, and those who will vote Republican in this election are motivated by fear alone. The obvious fear mongering of Republican advertisements is a tactical move, and one that ignores all the other issues in this election in favor of magnifying a single, divisive issue. Awesome.

    There you have it: My attempt at illustrating the reasons why young Americans are cynical, apathetic and not exactly tripping over themselves to vote in every election. It’s because the state of American politics isn’t as mind-numbingly simplistic and manipulative as it seems at first glance — it’s much, much worse.

    I figure that the American political system is our generation’s to inherit, so I, along with all the rest of us, should register my opinion on which ridiculous direction it goes next. If you’re not sure who to vote for, just decide which candidate sucks the least, then vote for the other guy because Fox News told you so. It works every time.

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