Legalizing duels might be solution to presidential elections
It used to be I looked forward to the election of a new president. I saw it as a time of change and new ideas. It seemed in those early days of my voting career there were clear cut choices for the man who would run our country.
The first election I voted in was when George McGovern ran against Richard Nixon. It was also the first national election in which 18 year olds could vote. McGovern and Nixon were clearly worlds apart in their politics and their proposals for the country. One was a pure liberal, the other almost a pure conservative.
Then came Gerald Ford versus Jimmy Carter. The choice for me was a little less clear here, because either I was getting older or the candidates were getting blander. In that race we had what seemed to a bumbling president (Ford was always hitting people with golf balls and falling down stairs) and an intellectual, whom history tells us for the most part never make good presidents. During Ford's time in office I remember a bumper sticker that was hanging around describing him, partly because I worked for a guy with the last name of Ford at the time and one of the workers had hung it above his office door. It read "Just remember...he's only a Ford, not a Lincoln."
After the malaise that was Jimmy Carters administration, it was easy to see why Ronald Reagan beat Carter. Not all the mess the country was in was Carters fault by any means, but then seldom has a president made his own mess to stand in at election time. At that time I had to ask myself should I vote for a man with clear principles, who just couldn't seem to lead, or an actor, who seemed to galvanize the country?
Up until that time I had had a pretty easy time figuring who to support. Since then, either changes in my political leanings or the merging of the two parties into the cesspool of corporate greed, where presidential candidates are muddled with truths and untruths has emerged. Since then it has always been the choice between which candidate is the least worst for me.
Last week when the Republicans held their convention the only speaker I watched was Zell Miller, because I just wanted to see him make a fool of himself. I didn't watch Arnold speak because first of all his "girly men" comments are so stupid and my gosh, he is afterall another actor.
It used to be conventions had drama and mystery to them; even as late as the mid-seventies there was still a chance that a dark horse could emerge. But anymore, it is all cut, dried and packaged by the time the convention comes to whatever town it is to be held in. I don't even see why conventions exist anymore, other than to give muckity muck leaders from both parties time to go to another town and get drunk.
Every succeeding presidential election is called the nastiest election ever. I don't know about that, because some of the early elections in our country were pretty messy. In those days, because duels were legal, people even threatened to shoot each other. Andrew Jackson actually did kill a man in a duel, but that happened before he was president and it was over a slur the man he shot made about Jacksons wife. Look at what's been going on about the two wives of presidential candidates today. If it was then, bullets would be a flying.
In fact the other morning I heard Miller during a television interview say that he wished duels were still legal because he would challenge someone ( I can't remember who) to a duel because they criticized him. I have to admit the guy says what he means, which regardless of how you feel about him, his ideas or his politics, you have to admire that. Maybe we should just legalize duels within the senate chambers and then we could be rid of a few of those guys that have been screwing things up for so long, on both sides of the aisle.
So now in this election we are stuck with two guys who seem to be more hung up on debating their military records than they are on debating the issues. True they both say that they have nothing to do with the ads run about those issues (ie. Swift boat veterans or Texans for Truth), but let's face it; each time one of those groups take a shot (theres that word again) at the other camp we can all hear a little cheering from the side they support.
Are the American people as divided down the middle as the polls say we are about who we are going to vote for? Or is it that we are so confused by all the garbage that is being put out by both major parties that one day we think one way and another day we think another? I have friends, who in the past have been staunch Republicans or staunch Democrats, who seem to change their minds daily. The issues from Iraq to the economy to social security to health care weigh heavily on everyones mind. And within these two candidates there doesn't seem to be a clear cut answer on what will be done, or what even can be done to solve those problems. Each says they have solutions, but little they say seems to make sense. Bush says he will continue on with his strong agenda, yet that agenda seems to be leading us down a road I know I don't want to travel. On the other hand, I'm not sure Kerry has anything solid to say at all.
Of course there are other choices on the ballot and everyone should look at them too. They won't win, but if you pick someone with principles like your own you will, at least, feel better about voting.
I try not to live in the past, because it is certainly viewed through multicolored and time worn glasses, but all I can say is where is Lyndon Johnson and Barry Goldwater when you need them?