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September 21, 2000

All of the Above for President

http://www.jewishjournal.com/other_voices/article/all_of_the_above_for_president_20000922

Unfortunately, it is once again one of those years when it is simply impossible to avoid discussing politics. The problem is that so many otherwise cordial people become so snippy when it comes to presidential elections. Being an independent with Libertarian leanings, I find the behavior of people in both major parties to be equally bizarre. How is it, I wonder, that simply because some political hack manages to capture his party's nomination, millions of people will suddenly regard him with the awe usually reserved for those who can raise the dead?

Actually, so long as you're not emotionally involved in all the partisan Sturm und Drang, the political races can be fairly entertaining. When you regard the combatants in the proper light, you can see how the entire process could be packaged as a TV show called "Who Wants to Be the President?"

Every four years, like a recurring charac-ter in a sitcom, up pops Pat Buchanan. What would a presi-dential campaign be like if we didn't have old Pat to kick around? As I see it, his primary role is to make every other candidate look good. Half the time, he goes around doing his Archie Bunker impression, saying nasty things about large blocs of the electorate, and the other half he spends accusing the media of putting nasty words in his mouth. What amuses me is that the media insist on pretending he's a serious contender when, obviously, all he really wants is to maintain his status as a TV pundit and overpriced public speaker. Perhaps because I have never understood rooting for a sports team simply because it is based, temporarily, in one's hometown, I can't comprehend the devotion that so many people feel towards their particular party. Allegiance to family, friends and country, I can fathom. But, a political party?! To suggest, as such devotion does, that one party is the fount of all wisdom and compassion, strikes me as sheer folly.

Inevitably, it leads people to regard followers of the other political faith as not merely mistaken, but evil. Speaking of faith, in this country, at least, there is far more rancor between the two parties than between the different religions. In fact, being the independent that I am, I can see that there exists not only a segment of the electorate we all know as the religious right, but a corresponding faction on the other side that we could refer to, but never do, as the religious left.

When you get right down to it, Pat Buchanan doesn't strike me as being half as spooky as the other candidates. He, alone, is aware of the fact that he hasn't a chance of being elected and is simply using the process to promote his own self-interests. It's all those other people, the ones who actually believe they're eminently qualified to be the leader of the most powerful nation on earth, who scare the heck out of me. In the best of all possible worlds, folks who entertain that sort of delusion don't get elected, they get committed.

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