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Peace on earth, goodwill to men

Katie Boyle | Monday, December 6, 2004

It has been the season for political sniping, and I’ve certainly used my fair share of cheap shots this semester, as did the President George W. Bush and Senator John Kerry campaigns. While the excuse, “it was just too easy,” comes to mind, in actuality the caricatures sketched by political pundits over the past months may entertain, but they also distract from the true issues of the presidential campaign.

While Bush’s posturing and Kerry’s alleged wavering provided amusement via Letterman and Leno, how many Americans actually understood each candidate’s positions? Was this an election based on logical thought or a reflexive emotionalism?

Phrases such as “gay marriage” and “partial birth abortion” inflamed the right, while others, such as “civil rights” and “wrong war, wrong place, wrong time,” created a furor of emotion among the left. In the aftermath, what is America to do with the schism created by a deeply polarizing presidential race?

Perhaps it would behoove her to look more closely at some of her choices in this election. Both the political parties and the mainstream media have been irresponsible in their portrayal of the presidential race. By focusing on highly emotional, controversial topics, they sometimes neglect issues, which may have less pizzazz, but have equal or greater impact on constituents’ lives, such as the economy and education.

Yet Americans cannot deny their own fault in the creation of these circumstances. The parties and the networks have found these topics to be the best means of gaining either votes or higher ratings. While the citizenry’s interest in these issues is certainly legitimate, a blind focus on one or two ideas is no way to make an informed decision about a candidate.

For example, some may argue that either the protection or abolishment of abortion, to choose an obvious topic, is their absolute top priority. Very well, but looking at this issue as black and white is foolish.

Without getting into the inflammatory “you hypocrite, you support the death penalty” or “baby killer” attacks, perhaps its possible that both sides have positively contributed to what Bush likes to call a “culture of life.”

On the side of the right, their focus on adoption and abstinence is absolutely laudatory. From the viewpoint of the left, who knows how many unwanted pregnancies have been prevented through their realistic decision to make birth control more or less readily available.

(Here I would like to remind the reader that this Viewpoint is not meant to support or condemn abortion. While outlawing it seems eerily reminiscent of Margaret Atwood’s “The Handmaid’s Tale,” personally I believe there are a high number of circumstances in which it is not the right choice. So I will accept complaints about my confused position on this issue, but reject all that discuss my positive adherence or denial that abortion is an irrevocable human right. Thank you for playing.)

Considering the ire stirred with issues such as abortion by both parties and the mainstream media, their neglect of the subtleties of these topics is appalling, as is their apparent ignorance of other platform areas.

If you are a one issue voter, that’s fine. Some feel their consciences, as informed by their religious beliefs, cannot condone gay marriage. Others are afraid of the repercussions outlawing abortion might bring. Many demographics also vote by their pocketbook.

Go ahead and vote on either side of one of these issues if it is prohibitively important to you … with one caveat. Anyone who votes should understand the impact the election of either candidate will have on all areas of their life, not just on one or two issues. If this influence is not understood, a voter is just as irresponsible as those spinning the party lines.

Regardless of how you voted, I hope you were informed and it was for something in which you believed. And I hope the results of this election will help to bring peace on earth and goodwill to men and women everywhere. Merry Christmas.

Katie Boyle is a senior English, political science and Spanish major. She supports the Democratic Party. She can be reached at [email protected]

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