OP-EDS

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November 2, 2004

Requiem for a jaded citizen

As millions of Americans head to the polls today, it is befitting that we take a look back. Through this year, we have seen the most volatile and vicious campaigns conducted in recent memory. Billions of dollars have been spent attacking each side, while the American people have looked on. Today we seek closure, yet we know it is only the beginning. Impending legal battles rear their ugly heads, fears of disenfranchisement plague the polling places, and the emotions of both sides are raw and ready for a fight. No matter who wins, the effect on this University and its students will be minimal, if non-existent. We all have the distinct privilege of attending such an elite school, but the bubble still remains. If Kerry wins, internships with the Heritage Foundation and Cato Institute are available to hold you over for four or, heaven forbid, eight years. If Bush proves victorious, then members of the Divinity School will still hold on to the hope that God will cast down upon him and smite him. A draft seems highly unlikely, both sides fearing the label of war-mongering conscriptionists. Safe to say, we will all go on to gain employment and to lead happy and prosperous lives.

So why are so many students, including this writer, doing everything that they can for their man? Hopefully, we all do this not just for ourselves, but the betterment of this country and the American people. The efforts of the students at this University are laudable and, with other like-minded work around the country, should culminate in record turnout this year. Will they be able to afford healthcare for themselves and their children? Can they retire at a reasonable age? Is the military the only option with college so far out of reach? These questions face all of us as we head to the polls today. Our contribution to this election has been to inform and expand the electorate, which has been an overwhelming success. But, our mission does not end on Election Day or even on inauguration day. We must continue what University President Hutchins called upon us to do: to acquire and share our knowledge with everyone we come across well after graduation. It is not a chore, but our duty as astute and learned individuals—good advice and all the more reason to name a building after him.

Yet the greatest hope to come out of this election is a respite from the volatile political discourse. We are fed up will all the swift boats and wolves that this election has to offer. The prospect of living once again in an atmosphere void of strife is wishful thinking at best. Each side will challenge the other's legitimacy if the race is close. Whoever is elected, we will have another four years of scheming to be rid of him. All of us are victims and bystanders of our own system, an audience of its triumphs and travails, hopeless of change. Each candidate will lead to different outcomes. With one we expect much of the same; the other is unknown. Our hope is that a "fresh start" will bring about healing and reflection upon our policies and views of one another. As citizens, it's the best thing we could hope for out of this election.