As this is being written, the pollsters are telling us that the Presidential election is in a dead heat, and they're almost right — while the media, desperate to keep an audience, try to generate some heat, the electorate's interest is well-nigh dead. And you can't blame us, really; no matter what happened in the primaries, it's decidedly not our fault that this election wound up being a schoolyard struggle between Goofus and Gallant.

And really, George W. Bush, despite being a few fries short of a Happy Meal, should have had all this wrapped up months ago. He had campaign money out the wazoo. He had issues he could work — who would have thought, as recently as a year ago, that privatizing Social Security, even partially, would be discussed anywhere outside think tanks? And he had the distinct advantage of being Clintonesque without actually being Clinton. Right now, Al Gore ought to be uploading the first draft of his concession speech to the very Internet he, um, invented. But Al's still alive, and he and Dubya are spending these last few weeks straining at gnats in a desperate attempt to woo that last handful of "undecided voters", whoever they are. The media are busting their keisters to get as many of them on the air as possible, in the belief that it will maintain interest and therefore ad rates.

The problem, of course, is that at this late in the game, we shouldn't have any quantity of undecided voters. This campaign has been going on seemingly since the turn of the century; it's not like there are going to be sudden revelations. If you think abortion is a Bad Thing, you've probably already committed yourself to Governor Bush; if you see "compassionate conservative" as an oxymoron on the level of "meteoric rise" (and when was the last time anyone saw a meteor actually rising?) you've likely already enlisted under the banner of Vice-President Gore. Other candidates have their followings as well. So who's left to be undecided? Anyone who has given any actual thought to this election quit being "undecided" months, even years, ago. If your personal philosophy is such that you can't decide which of these two (or, for that matter, the other three or four) fellows to support until you see what lengths he'll go to for your vote — in other words, if you're waiting to see which stranger will offer you the best candy — then you're part of the problem. At this point, the candidates should be pounding away at how the opposition is totally unfit to govern for purely philosophical reasons, not quibbling over the size of the bribe they're offering to AARP members who need medication.

If you don't like any of these guys, that's fine. Much is being said about how mediocre this year's candidates are supposed to be. But until we get rid of this notion that voting is simply a matter of picking among Eeny, Meeny, Miney, Moe, Larry and Curly — in other words, until we start doing our civic homework way before the last possible minute — these are the candidates we will deserve.

The Vent

22 October 2000

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 Copyright © 2000 by Charles G. Hill