Debates aren’t pep rallies
| Sunday, October 3, 2004
To the Democrats who were at the Presidential Debate Thursday night:
Some people attended the campus debate watch for the free pizza. Some went because they want to see the candidates’ debate in an open community space. Some chose to cheer for their preferred candidate. To this last group, I ask: please stay home. No one cares how big your John Kerry sign is, nor do we appreciate your knee-jerk clapping after everything Kerry says.
While my gut instinct is to fault just the people who were unable to control their behavior, I also am offended that the Rock the Vote organizers did nothing to stop this behavior. I know several of those organizers and some of them make no effort to hide their politics. Yet I believe it is possible for partisan people to create a nonpartisan community event. However, no effort was made to curb the enthusiasm of the Democrat half of the room. The Republican half of the room behaved itself. If such partisan behavior continues, I cannot see how Rock the Vote can presume to support nonpartisan dialogue and community for the benefit of us all as students and citizens.
My vote in the upcoming election is undecided. I do not currently feel at home in either party. I feel even less comfortable in a campus atmosphere that seems to prefer grandstanding to the purported goals of the Rock the Vote group.
There have been several op-ed pieces written recently which call into question the goals of Rock the Vote and the College Democrats in our community. I agree we need more nonpartisan effort to increase awareness of serious political issues. I do not believe a public event should be allowed to turn into a pep rally for a particular candidate. I hope Rock the Vote takes seriously the efforts of nonpartisan dialogue and community and makes some motion to create a safe atmosphere for intelligent political participation. Otherwise, I prefer to watch the debates at home.