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Why politics?

Observer Viewpoint | Tuesday, April 26, 2005

It’s always good to sit back and think for a while how lucky you are to be where you are in the world right now. Sure, you hate South Bend’s weather, Notre Dame’s rules or what you may consider to be a pretty dull campus as far as parties go. There are many of you out there that may bemoan the fact that you do not have the same Lexus SUV as your roommate or a credit card your parents gave you. You may be fat. You may be unpopular, ugly, smell or any range of things that may seem to make the world around you a misery. Taking any that apply into consideration, pick up a pair of dice and start rolling them. After doing some quick calculations in the CIA world fact book, consider that you had a three in one hundred chance of being born in the United States. Without doing the math (since I’m an Arts and Letters major), consider your chances of being born into a family above the poverty line. Consider your chances of being born into a family that fostered your education to a point that you could handle yourself at Notre Dame. Finally, consider the odds that you would actually make it into a world-renowned university like Notre Dame. Look at a pair of dice and consider how lucky you are. Next take a look at history and consider your place in it. You weren’t born into the Middle Ages, born as a slave, or born into any other time than this. If you are my age, you were born after the invention of the personal computer. You were born after cable TV, the airplane, the automobile, modern plumbing and the Internet. Any “average Joe” with a library card and an ability to use Windows XP in this country has more information at his fingertips than armies of scribes or scholars during most of history. All around you is a world filled with problems. Scarcity of resources, inequity of all kinds, hate, war and violence are rules of history as opposed to occasional exceptions. Our technology has unleashed the power of the atom, the microbe and the terrible possibilities of chemistry for destruction. Meanwhile the world is becoming smaller as our technology increases the speed of worldwide communication to the millisecond. Our world is one of both great problems and unparalleled potential. The phenomenon of human nature, history, economics, religion, war, peace, education and law all intersect in the unique field of politics. Although many within our generation may not even realize it, history has placed us into one of its most political of time periods. In no time or place in the world have any people had the same ability to influence politics as we do. Google search an interest of yours, and there is more than likely an interest group in Washington actively lobbying on its behalf. Each and every one of us is a highly-educated political actor with enough education and access to make a serious difference. This past year’s election showed us that it comes down to old-fashioned grassroots politics. The swing of a few thousand votes in Florida or Ohio could change the history of the next one-hundred years when you think of the domino effect U.S. policy has on a complicated and interdependent global economy. So, in my last column, I won’t try and push my conservative views on anybody. In fact, I have more respect for well-known campus liberals like Peter Quaranto or Kamaria Porter than I do for those who just sit on their hands and watch history pass by them. To say that each and every one of you at Notre Dame have the ability to change the world is not an exaggeration. A look at the mathematics of population and the reality of a politically polarized United States of America makes each and every one of you a potential political resource.I’ve had a great experience on campus here with the College Republicans, and I will truly miss this part of my life. Whatever small ripple we may have made in the ocean of the destiny of this world, I am proud that I was able to be a part of it. I’d also like to thank all of my fellow College Republicans, for their hard work last year during the election. Thank you Congressman Chocola for letting us work a part of your campaign and your hospitality in getting us tickets for the Inauguration in Washington, as well as the opportunity to attend the Indiana Inaugural Ball. I’ll truly miss great friends like Josh Kempf, Jonathan Klingler, Jaimie Feltault and Ian Ronderos whom I met in the College Republicans. Finally, I’d like to thank my loyal readers and the noble opposition. Although the Democrats lost this year, it was in no part due to your College Democrats. Though we had our squabbles over the Transpo thing, I respect the amount of time they put into fighting for their candidates. Thank you Katie Boyle as well for going head to head with me on these Viewpoint pages in the weeks leading up to the election. I also appreciated the motivation and constructive criticism I received in my e-mail box throughout the year for my column. I was honored by letters to the editor and e-mails that responded to my column. I was honored that so many of you took the time to read my work. Take care and God Bless. God, Country, Notre Dame.

Tom Rippinger is a senior political science major. He is a member of the Notre Dame College Republicans. He can be contacted at [email protected] views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.