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A day in the life of the American Democracy

Tom Rippinger | Wednesday, November 3, 2004

Today was indeed an interesting day. Reflecting back on the progress our nation has made in the past few months is truly inspiring. The story of today really began for me on the morning of Sept. 11. On that morning our generation of Americans was called to action. Our destinies had changed from that of lazy post-materialistic MTV watching spoiled brats to a calling similar to that of our forefathers who fought and died in the worldwide struggles against tyranny and communism.

The very legitimacy of our existence as a nation has been called into question by radical Islamic militants opposed to the worldwide advancement of the principles of liberty. Our generation has risen to the call in ways worthy of the American heritage. On the other side of the globe, brave young men and women of my generation are fighting and dying for the advancement of freedom in distant lands.

Closer to home, our generation is doing what it can to continue the advancement of freedom. Over the past few months, we have had a spirited dialogue with our liberal counterparts debating the election. Both Democrats and Republicans are volunteering, voting, and actively voicing their opinion in the media from weblogs to national television. Although we’ve had our disagreements, they are fiercely fought in our media as opposed to fists. If anything can be learned from these past few vicious months, it is that a nation can fiercely disagree without resorting to violence. I feel that is the best example we can set for the rest of the world.

The past few weeks have been hectic to say the least. On the whole political contribution can seem frustratingly minimal. I would make it through three pages of voters in a phone bank on a given night. A person in our club may knock on 100 doors in an afternoon. Today, I waited 45 minutes in line to cast one vote. All off these days add up and culminate into days like today where time seems to move at a near standstill.

Today started out like any other day dealing with a badly timed midterm, and a two-page paper for another class. I didn’t really want to wake up this morning, nor did I wish to do much of anything. I managed to make it through my midterm today, although my mind was definitely not on Medieval Politics. Townie that I am, my brother and I managed to make it out to Granger to vote in today’s election.

Wearing my Notre Dame Fighting Republicans T-shirt to the polls, I ran into Democratic challenger for the Indiana 2nd District seat Joe Donnelly outside my designated voting place. His family being long-time friends of ours, I sheepishly managed a hello and a handshake as I walked into the polls. I felt good in the fact that he could shake my hand and avoid making politics personal in the oldest tradition of American democracy.

After voting, I promptly called the campaign manager for Congressman Chris Chocola, who ran for the 2nd District seat, to see if I could help wrap up the phone banks. However, I was shocked and pleasantly surprised to hear hundreds of volunteers called every likely Republican voter in the district twice this morning. From there, all that was left after months of work was watching and waiting.

Tuesday night at the Marriott, the officers of the College Republicans and I did just that. In the grand old tradition of the stereotypical Republican, Ian Ronderos and I took a break to smoke cigars in the lounge while watching the election results come in. After enjoying our cigars, we joined the victory rally upstairs after the race was called for both Congressman Chocola and Mitch Daniels for governor of Indiana.

As I write this, we are currently ahead, pending the assault of the Democratic lawyers. For now, I’m enjoying the hard-work paid off in both local campaigns. Back over at home sweet home Castle Point, I’m currently in an apartment with 20 other Bush enthusiasts watching the results of this election.

I’ve resigned myself to accept victory or defeat. As they say, “it’s not over till it’s over.” This election should be praised as a high point in American political activism either way. Resigning with you now to watch how the rest of this American drama plays out, I feel confident in the fact that events like Sept. 11 will never destroy our nation’s greatest strengths of political activism and strong civil society.

Tom Rippinger is a senior political science major. He supports President George W. Bush and is the co-President of the Notre Dame College Republicans. He can be contacted at [email protected]

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