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Fearful symmetry

Letter to the Editor | Thursday, October 30, 2008

As our airplane descended into Seattle last weekend it rocked with some turbulence. While this was probably just the result of heavy winds, I couldn’t help but be reminded of Zach Braff’s nightmare in “Garden State.” Grabbing my armrests, I braced for the worst and considered whether or not it would be possible to fashion a parachute out of a blanket if the plane were to rip apart like in “Lost.” As the plane righted it’s course, I not only realized that we were going to be fine, but that I might watch too many movies.

Like many people I try to act like I am fearless, but with today being Halloween it is only appropriate that I admit to my fears while contemplating everybody else’s. With our economy in shambles and the country on the verge of an historic yet divisive election, Americans of all backgrounds are scared of what happens next. This Halloween, more than any other in my lifetime, finds Americans more fearful than ever.

As the presidential election enters its final weekend, websites and television programs have all reported that Americans are terrified that the candidate of their opposition will win. As “The Daily Show” correspondent John Oliver put it, “There is no red America, no blue America, there’s just one scared sh**less America.” It does not matter if people support Senator Obama or Senator McCain. People across the country are terrified of what would happen if the other guy wins, and they should be.

As young Americans, we college students should be more scared than anybody. Our country is about to elect a man that will be ready and willing to push the problems of his generation on to our own without batting an eye, and I can say this without making any assumptions about who wins on Tuesday. This is because both candidates only care about Joe the Plumber, and couldn’t care less about his children’s future. Both candidates want to spend more money while they raise less money. Both candidates will run a record budget deficit next year. Both candidates will continue to create debt that their administrations will never find a way to pay off, and we are the generation that will be forced to solve these problems in the future.

I almost wish that Doc Brown could swoop down in his DeLorean, pick up Messrs. McCain and Obama and say, “The problem is for your kids.” He could whisk the two away to a future where Americans can’t afford the flying cars that the Chinese and Japanese have because we are forced to pay ridiculously high taxes just to make sure the government doesn’t collapse. If people are worried about GM and Ford in the present, I can only imagine what it will be like when Honda, Toyota, and Nissan have cornered this market on flying cars.

That will be fine with me, though. I do have that acute fear of flying I mentioned earlier.

Although I might not be as troubled by a flying car that I could have control over. My fear of flight might simply be grounded (pun intended) in the notion that I have no control over the situation rather than the actual act of being so high above the ground. If this lack of control is actually what scares me, then there really is nothing more I can do, just like there is nothing more we young Americans can do to stop our parent’s generation from dumping their problems on us.

The generation ahead of us destroyed this economy by purchasing houses they couldn’t afford and then looking to the government when the financial system into which they put their faith collapsed. The government, in turn, produced $700 billion out of nowhere to fix this mess, leaving the governments of the future to balance the checkbook. As Sarah Connor might have remarked, Judgment Day was prevented.

However we know better by now. We have seen T3. Judgment Day cannot be prevented; it can only be delayed. So just as John Connor was left to solve the problems that his mother could not, we will one day be left to pick up the pieces of our current economic crisis. Only this will happen many years after John McCain or Barack Obama has been given four years to dig an even deeper whole of debt for this country.

Some might say that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, just as long as you vote. I agree that it doesn’t matter who you vote for, and it doesn’t even matter if you vote. I believe this because four years from now the government will have left its children with more loans to pay off, and it probably won’t have the ability to save itself by fashioning a parachute out of a blanket. On the bright side, we will probably still have a new “Saw” movie to ease our fears every Halloween.

Bob Kessler is a senior majoring in political science and economics. You can contact him at rkessler@nd.edu

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

necessarily those of The Observer.