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Bush and Cheney are back? Or are they?

Katie Boyle | Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Well, at least now I know why plastic cups come in red and blue. Pick your color, and proclaim your candidate. At almost 11:30 p.m. on Nov. 2, I certainly didn’t know much else about the results of the presidential election. If only the election coverage could be more like the Oscars. I like key moments to be nicely staggered throughout my evening. Trot out the Iowa results around eight, shake things up a little with Ohio at 10. But apparently national elections haven’t been designed for my entertainment.

Despite this obvious flaw, political science aficionado (or nerd) that I am, I knew I’d be glued to the television set for the rest of the night. I needed plenty of time to pack my bags for my permanent vacation in Canada should George W. Bush manage to pull this off.

Regardless of political affiliation, however, I am impressed with the Notre Dame student body’s interest in this election. Even my friend Brian’s 21st birthday party today was themed, complete with an Electoral College drinking game. You can’t ask for more dedication than the inclusion of two aging politicians in your rite of passage.

The student body, like the country, is practically evenly divided. I’d like to point out the (very) obvious. Parietals are antiquated. And, of course, that no matter who won this election, a lot of people were going to be very unhappy. Particularly Ralph Nader, but who’s listening to him now anyway?

Regardless of whether Sen. John Kerry or Bush won the election, it is important that the enthusiasm generated among the younger sector of the population remains strong. Even if your party hasn’t gained the White House, individuals are still able to have an incredible impact on politics, particularly in the local arena. Campaigns such as ‘Rock the Vote’ and P. Diddy’s ‘Vote or Die’ slogan, have increased awareness among new voters.

Thanks to the closeness of this election, it’s certainly been a nerve-wracking evening for me. On another level, however, this phenomenon has forced politicians to court not only the undecided voter, but the possible voter. The increased turn out and awareness of issues this year has been a positive for our country, even though it may not have resulted in a win for John Kerry.

Unfortunately, it seems that political parties needed the impetus of this close race to launch get out the vote campaigns. So is it now the closer the race, the greater the importance of each voter? If you want to matter more, hope for a dead heat. Or that, like my roommate, you hail from Ohio.

A truly dedicated politician should strive to increase voter education and awareness across the nation regardless of its importance to their own election. When I was younger, I used to think everyone should have to take a written exam on the issues before they could vote. Now I understand the impracticality, not to mention the elitism, of this plan, but I still maintain the sentiment behind it.

Citizens should know not just for whom, but also for what they are voting. People should research every candidate, rather than voting a straight party line. And politicians have a responsibility to their constituents to encourage voting in their communities, and to pronounce nuclear correctly.

In the end, all I can say is if George W. Bush wins, and it appears increasingly likely that he has, I’ve always heard Quebec’s a nice province.

Katie Boyle is a senior English, political science and Spanish major. She supports John Kerry. She can be reached at kboyle2@nd.edu.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.