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Relinquishing partisanship

Observer Viewpoint | Thursday, November 11, 2004

The early hours of Nov. 3 found me shocked and disappointed as my hopes for a new president steadily slipped away. John Kerry might not have been a perfect candidate, but I believe that he would have been a capable leader who would have made great strides in uniting a divided nation. After getting over the initial surprise that the American people had really opted for four more years of “Dubya,” I realized that plenty of good came out of this election.

First and foremost, last Tuesday saw the highest percentage of voter turnout since the 1968 election. Of particular interest was the fact that some 20.9 million Americans under the age of thirty voted. This marks an increase of 4.6 million from the 2000 election – I’m sure this can be largely attributed to P. Diddy’s inspiring “Vote or Die” campaign. In short, Democrats and Republicans alike emphasized the importance of getting out and voting, and the country responded.

Another positive element of this campaign came as a result of last month’s debates. Both candidates were effective in using the debates to energize their bases. More importantly, Sen. John Kerry and President George W. Bush used the forum to help bring several key issues to the forefront of voters’ consciousness. Obviously, the war on terrorism, Bush’s war in Iraq, abortion, gay rights and the economy dominated the debates. However, the contests also caused people to think about taxes, health care and Supreme Court nominations. Regardless of which candidate was more effective in the debates, they both succeeded in bringing these topics into our national discussion.

If you are anything like me, you are not thrilled with the idea of Bush in office for four more years. Still it is important to support the president and the United States. I have heard many people claim that they are going to leave the country until the 2008 election. Do not go packing your bags quite yet. It is time to stop complaining and begin trying to make a difference in America. Do not let the issues that you felt so passionately about prior to last Tuesday go to rest until the next election cycle.

This is not a time for partisanship. This is a time for people in Red States and Blue States to band together and try to repair some of the deep divisions in our country. For Democrats, that does not mean that you should go invest in a NASCAR bumper sticker to put on your car. Instead, start with something simple. Whether or not you agree with the war in Iraq, it is important to support the troops. Rather than complaining about the war and its causes, stand behind the brave men and women who are overseas defending our rights.

Similarly, this is not a time for Republicans to tout “political capital” or gloat about a supposed mandate. Instead, it is a time to reach out to Democrats and look for some common ground. For the president, a good start would be to heed the words of his opponent, Kerry. In his concession speech he reminded the country, “But in an American election, there are no losers, because whether or not our candidates are successful, the next morning we all wake up as Americans. That is the greatest privilege and the most remarkable good fortune that can come to us on Earth. With that gift also comes obligation. We are required now to work together for the good of our country.”

Molly Acker is a junior communications and humanistic studies double major at Saint Mary’s. Her column appears every other Thursday. Contact her at acke6798@saintmarys.edu

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