Voice Your Choice

By The Columbia Chronicle

David C. Kinnard

Senior Correspondent

“It is dreadful to die of thirst in the sea. Do you have to salt your truth so much that it can no longer even quench thirst?”

– Friedrich Nietzsche, in “Beyond Good and Evil”

Ah, yes! Election time is drawing near and that can only mean one thing . . . thirsty voters are yearning to get out to the polls and declare who is good and who is evil. It’s an age-old thrill and we’ve always loved doing it. That’s why we love “Jerry Springer” and the like; it’s so easy to sit in the audience and pity the good soul and condemn the evil one. In politics, that is “real life.” It’s becoming exceedingly strenuous to decide who gets the Senate seat, the governor’s mansion and so forth. With every candidate’s image so tarnished by slander and defamation, the truth has become salted and voters don’t know where to turn.

This year is especially difficult. The main question, it seems, is this: Do we vote for the Democrat with the tainted past or the Republican that wants to oust any public officer who ever saw “Showgirls”? According to the latest Chicago Tribune poll, Illinois voters will play it safe with the Grand Old Party this time around. Making headway in the race for U.S. Senate is Republican Peter Fitzgerald, a hard-core extremist that most political analysts thought would be too right-winged to win. Now, thanks to dissenting attitudes towards the candidacy and the job approval rate of his opponent Carol Moseley-Braun, the incumbent, the latest polls show Fitzgerald at 49% while Moseley-Braun trails with 36%. Her first term in office was, to say the least, ugly. Questions surrounding her exorbitant taxpayer-funded trip to Nigeria and her unethical management of financial problems are hindering her bid for office, and Fitzgerald, the millionaire from Inverness, hasn’t missed a beat in picking up her slack.

Meanwhile, in pursuit of the Governor’s office, Republican George Ryan has maintained a steady lead over Glenn Poshard. Polls show him at a commanding lead of 21% over Poshard despite a federal investigation into the selling of licenses in Ryan’s office. Poshard’s efforts to correlate him to the highway deaths of six children due to improperly tested truck drivers under Ryan’s supervision. Problems hampering Poshard include his resolution to raise taxes by $400 million and lower property taxes by $510 million. This isn’t working for him because voters are hearing the first part and not believing the second. Ryan is sitting pretty with an army of support from Illinois’ largest teacher’s union, the Fraternal Order of the Police, an ever-increasing and heavily-involved gay community, and about 25% of African-American voters. Ryan will probably triumph because of his successful inroads to these usually Democratic constituencies as well as by keeping the traditional Republican electorate happy.

In what has proven to be the least exciting race of 1998, Al Salvi and Jesse White are currently engaged in a statistical tie in their bids for the office of secretary of state. Both are hovering around the 37% region in the polls, proving that not too many people care who gets elected to that office. Whoever it is, there won’t be a majority of over 50% of voters, which is alarming because it means that the majority won’t rule in this case. That’s what makes politics so unfair . . . and interesting.

Finally, Republican Jim Ryan, who is running for re-election as attorney general, has the blessing of 53% of voters compared to a sickly 23% held by rival Chicago Treasurer Miriam Santos. Santos’ campaign has been impeded by the allegations that financial institutions were tempted with the hope of city business in exchange for heavy contributions toward her campaign. What’s so disconcerting about all of this is the ever-growing sentiment against Republicans currently in Congress who want to do what the rest of the country doesn’t: Impeach President Clinton. In fact, most get sick at the mere mention of the Clinton-Lewinsky affair. But here we go, voting more Republicans into office. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, but I thought that everybody was angry with the GOP.

Remember hearing about the Whig party in high school? It’s interesting to note that they faltered out of existence long before they came under the kind of scrutiny and shame that’s abounding in both of the present-day parties. Perhaps now is the time to give up and let somebody else give it a try. It’s obvious that we will soon outgrow these pachyderms and pack-mules. Let’s face it, America has grown weary of picking the lesser of two evils, and no candidate, no matter how perfect, will fix that now.

We have an inherent thirst for the truth that hasn’t been quenched since the days of the Kennedy boys. But those times are long gone. We now live in an era of disillusion and decay. We constantly sway back and forth on the issues, and quite frankly, nothing makes sense anymore. It’s time now for the youth — that’s us, Columbia — to rethink our strategy and place in the world. I’m starting to get worried about the future of politics and I know it won’t be me who comes up with the answer. No, I’m too bogged down with all of this arcane nonsense happening in Washington. So any of you who have ideas for a “new way”, come into The Chronicle and let us know. We can start by having you run for office. We still have about 2 weeks before the election and that’s plenty of time to organize a massive “write-in” campaign. I personally don’t want to vote for anybody who is currently running for any of the state offices, and we need options so get down here as soon as possible. You will surely have the support of the entire Chronicle staff and that’s not a bad place to start.

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