Presidential election bereft of choice

Tim Paluch

Nov. 7 is a big day for me. For the first time, I will cast my vote for the next great leader of the free world. This is no dainty task and feeling this immense pressure to make the correct decision, I feel it is vital to take a close look at the candidate: two more rich white guys with their respective rich white compadres. Now that that is out of the way, sooner or later I must make my decision as to whom to ultimately vote for. This decision relies solely on policy and views. This particular election is unique because no matter who you cast your vote for, Gore or Bush, the same basic ideologies will be headed to the oval office come 2001. That makes this “momentous” decision seem a little less important, as either way the cookie crumbles. America is guaranteed a real “winner.” Whether it’s Al “earth tones do make me exciting,” Gore with the little (d), or George W. Bush, a worthy heir to the throne once occupied by his daddy and everybody’s favorite fighter pilot, with the little (r), expect no new changes come the new year. Al Jr. and vice presidential candidate Joe Lieberman are both members of the “New Democrats” emerging in Washington, or as I like to call them, Republicans. That gives us an old-fashioned, one-party election just like they used to have in the Soviet Union. Both Al and Joe stood up against fellow democrats to join republicans in Congress fighting to support the Gulf War, the very same Gulf War that made republican vice presidential candidate Dick Cheney a rich, rich man. Cheney is the biggest individual stockholder and is the former chief executive of Halliburton Co., the world’s largest oil service company. This is the same company that made millions upon millions of dollars selling supplies to rebuild the oil fields destroyed in the controversial war Cheney played a major part in as defense secretary in the Bush administration. And the similarities don’t end there. Both Tweedle-dee and Tweedle-dum have fought hard to ensure that the rich continue to get richer while everyone else stays right where they are. Both Bush and Gore oppose raising the minimum wage to match the cost of living and both support the Federal Reserve policy of keeping wages down in order to increase profits. Both Bush and Gore and their lackeys have exuberantly supported corporate managed trade such as NAFTA, the WTO and the IMF, policies that take away middle and lower class American jobs in the name of corporate greed. And let’s not forget that both candidates have raised record amounts of campaign money from a variety of wealthy corporate sponsors. In fact, specific sponsors like Microsoft, Phillip Morris and AT&T have contributed ungodly amounts of cash to EACH party. Apparently big money corporations are bipartisan – they buy both parties. No matter who takes the crown, you can bet those platinum and gold corporate sponsors come a-knockin with some policy ideas come January. It’s highly unlikely any campaign finance reform bills are going to be at the top of the agenda for either candidate as each will undoubtedly continue to support billions of dollars in corporate subsidies. Let’s also not forget that both candidates support the Cuban Embargo, increases in military spending, continued bombing in Iraq, the death penalty and standing by as America has more weapons than people. But let’s not say that these candidates are completely identical in their respective views. Gore’s and Bush’s major differences are the ones you see when you turn on the news or listen to speakers at those propaganda fests we know as the conventions. The candidates have opposing views on education and social security, which seem to be defining policies in every election. And we can’t forget everybody’s favorite litmus test: abortion. Abortion seems to be the hot topic any time democrats and republicans square off in debate and for some reason, people tend to believe that if Bush is elected, abortions will suddenly become illegal. If republicans wanted abortion illegal, I am sure Captain Conservative, Ronald Reagan would have taken care of that. So, I, like everyone else will just take my pick. I might as well flip a coin, draw straws or just plain vote with my eyes closed. Another four years of the Clinton administration and its “unprecedented prosperity” that has continually increased consumer debt and forced American workers to compete with 12-year-old Mexican children is one option. Or you can envision a leader with a background of upper-class tax cuts and pollution that has made Texas the second worst in child poverty, worst in teachers’ salaries plus benefits, worst in percentage of people with no health care, first in execution, first in number of people stripped of Medicare benefits and 48th in affordable housing. So, it seems that I have decided that the choice is mine and yours and the choice is simple: There is no choice. Whether you vote for the little (d) or the little (r), expect politics as usual, with the big money coming out on top.