At least we have the luxury of apathy

Rachel Faber

As the race for the presidency heats up, the idea of electing a leader becomes much less appealing. The sense of democratic and Constitutional continuity seems somehow marred by sparring matches over advertisements, oil and character. Voter apathy may not be the correct term, but voter distaste may be. Regardless, voters appear to be more enthusiastic about the 100 meters than the election. People in my circle of political savants have been overheard making some interesting comments about the elections. One said she would vote for Gore since he came to the school, and she said he seemed like a nice guy. She even got to shake hands with him. I didn’t realize that baby-kissing politics were so effective, but apparently the personal touch is the key to the swing vote. “Gore scares me,” said another. “I would vote for Zippy the Chimp before I would vote for Gore.” He later indicated that Zippy might also eclipse Dubya, because the voter could be assured that in the least, Zippy would not wreak havoc in the executive office. Score: Homo sapiens 0, all higher primates, 1. Then there are the “wait and see the early results” voters. They have decided that they will exercise democracy in the defense rather than the offense, and their real desire to cast a third-party vote will be made when they see which of the lesser evils is ahead in the early-results polls. You never score if you spend all your time in the outfield and don’t step up to the plate, but this noble sect of martyred voters doesn’t seem perturbed. Some of my favorite voters are the “I’m not going to waste my vote on either of these clowns” voters. Their vote is something they can abstain from now and expend later, like pizza coupons. While they may not favor either candidate, they could certainly be spurred to join the Zippy the Chimp write-in campaign. I decided to catch the election vibes outside the United States to see if the prospect of new leadership mustered an iota more excitement than it does here. Perhaps if more is at stake with the high political office people become impassioned with the choice of leadership. For example, the elections in Yugoslavia pose the urgent question of whether or not to retain Slobodan Milosevic in the highest office in the land. Allegations of corruption, illegal election activities and coercion surround the election. Compounding the situation are the displaced people and refugees. War in the Balkans in recent years has led to giant changes in demographics, altering the number of registered voters, allegiance and citizens within borders. Tanzania is looking forward to its second multi-party election. In efforts to integrate the rural public to a democratically-active society, educational groups are traveling throughout the country putting on puppet shows with simple storylines to highlight the role of government in the lives of all Tanzanians, especially women. The scripts of the shows include typical scenes in village life and illustrate the role of government in overseeing and addressing social problems. Young nations are looking forward to elections this fall. Poland and Belarus are two nations where the years of voting rights can be measured within our lifetimes. Sri Lanka, a nation torn by rebellion and civil war, looks forward to elections that will either stabilize or continue to unravel the island nation. Switzerland is voting on a national referendum to limit the number of immigrants in the nation. It seems ironic that a tiny nation with four distinct language cultural groups would be faced with a national question to mathematically regulate diversity, but it is an issue that will affect multinationals based in Switzerland and the nation’s economy. Despite all the interesting history unfolding around us, we seem to be in a comfortable spot in the United States, and voters are not impassioned by the election. While we may complain about voter apathy, the unrecognized blessing is that our voters have the luxury to be apathetic, because no matter the outcome of this year’s election, the chance that the nation will change drastically is minute. Unless of course, Zippy manages an upset.