Massachusetts Daily Collegian

Flipping a double sided coin of failure

By Josh Steinberg

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Sam Felder

There is much more than a fine line between Democrats and Republicans these days. Sitting on opposite ends of the political spectrum, the two groups constantly butt heads on just about every issue at hand. As the November election draws closer each day, the powerful words of P. Diddy are beginning to echo in my head: “Vote or Die.”

It seems like it should be an easy decision to make. After all, there are only two choices: left or right.

That is exactly where my problem lies. There are only two choices, and neither suits my interests.

The media has been clogged with campaign advertisements for the last few months. First came the Republican primaries at the beginning of the year. It was a fierce battle between a handful of candidates, all claiming to stand for something different yet vying for the same ultimate prize.

When the primary began, there was Newt Gingrich, Jon Huntsman Jr., Ron Paul, Rick Perry, Mitt Romney and Rick Santorum. Slowly it trickled down to a more concise group of contenders. Towards the end, it seemed like it was turning into a toss-up between Romney and Gingrich, with Santorum and Paul playing the role of ‘The Other Guys.’

Then came the endless stream of bickering between the Republicans that should have made any sane man cringe. I once thought politics were about proving you were the better candidate, but now I realize it is about proving why your opponent is worse.

During the final week before the Florida primary, a win that would propel the candidate into a comfort zone for the coming weeks, 92 percent of the advertisements aired on TV were negative ads attacking opponents. For the two big contenders, Romney and Gingrich, that translated into 0.1 percent and 9 percent positive advertisements, respectively.

Politics has never been a clean game; we have seen that throughout history. The only way it could escalate any further at this point is if Romney challenged Gingrich to an old-fashioned duel, Hamilton vs. Burr style. It might be the most effective way to pick a candidate at this point, since it is questionable what anybody even stands for at this point.

Maybe it is because I am finally old enough to become aware of it, but it seems like slander campaigns are becoming grossly invasive. It has simply become a matter of who can dig up more dirt on their opponent, and who has more money to clog the media with their hate.

It should be interesting to see what the following weeks bring us, being that President Barack Obama and presidential hopeful Romney are almost neck-and-neck with the amount of funds they have raised for their campaigns.

Obama has the slight edge in fundraising at the moment with $587.7 million, compared to Romney’s $524.2 million. Obama, however, has outspent Romney thus far ($502.8 million to $395.1million) giving Romney the deeper pockets to dip into for future weeks.

This brings me back to my original point of struggling to find a political identity. The issues that keep emerging are seemingly irrelevant to me as a college student. Democrats have spent so much time hounding Romney to reveal his tax records recently that they have had no time to bring anything new to the table.

At the Democratic National Convention, Joe Biden cheered on the crowd saying, “I have a bumper sticker for you. It says, ‘Osama bin Laden is dead, and General Motors is alive!’

This may be true but the unemployment rate is still close to 10 percent (8.3 percent as of July), the national spending deficit is vaster than the Grand Canyon and college tuition is still at an all-time high with no signs of slowing. Bin Laden may be dead, but we still have troops occupying the Middle East, and our country’s dependence on foreign oil is almost as great as the national debt. We are aware of what the Obama administration has done already, but what is next?

It seems to me that there are very little grounds for a college student to relate to either of the presidential candidates on. On one hand, Obama has the right ideas socially, but no business experience. On the other hand, our economic future seems safer in the hands of Romney, but at what cost to social freedom? There is no common ground.

That is my main complaint. The bipartisan system leaves you with only two options to choose from. What happens when neither option appeals to you? I have heard a lot of speculation along the lines of ‘Well, I don’t necessarily agree with what Romney stands for, but I sure as hell won’t vote for Obama.’ It becomes voting against someone you hate rather than voting for someone you like.

There are still other options, but are they really even options? Can the independent or libertarian party be considered a viable option? The overwhelming consent is that voting for one of the lesser-publicized parties is a waste of a vote. Do not feel that way. A wasted vote would be voting for Romney because you simply hate Obama, or because that’s how your parents vote. Do research and find the candidate that best suits your beliefs.

If enough people decided that voting independent was right for them, we could very well have history in the making. It is a tough decision to make, but it should not be shrugged off.

As college students, we are the up-and-coming generation. In a decade or so, we will begin to hold office. The laws being passed and the people who are in power will soon have a greater effect on us than our parents. November 6 is in 60 days so plenty of time to formulate a decision. Just make sure it is informed and well thought out.

Josh Steinberg is a Collegian Columnist. He can be reached at [email protected]



5 Responses to “Flipping a double sided coin of failure”

  1. Mike on September 8th, 2012 2:50 pm

    I hear so many people say “I love Gary Johnson (who will likely be on the ballot)” but they won’t vote for him, because they must vote either D or R. Obama and Romney may as well be the same person. Both lie, their ideologies socially, constitutionally, and even economically, are not much different, and both will continue to lead this country into the ground. If these people who all like these third party candidates actually voted for them, than maybe this country would stand a snowballs chance.



  2. Gavin on September 8th, 2012 4:36 pm

    Gary Johnson! Business experience, governing experience, fiscally conservative, socially liberal. He is the most promising third party candidate fielded in a long time.


  3. Gavin on September 8th, 2012 4:38 pm

    From his website:
    “Johnson, a Republican who served as governor of New Mexico from 1995 to 2003, is running on a platform that includes slashing government spending to balance the federal budget by 2013, ending wars the U.S. in involved in, and drug reform — beginning with the legalization of marijuana but extending all the way to the war on drugs, drug policy, relations with Latin America, and even law enforcement policies and priorities– issues that neither of the two major candidates President Obama and former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney are pursuing right now.”


  4. Mike on September 9th, 2012 7:30 pm

    He also climbed Mt. Everest, which is pretty sweet.



  5. Dr. Ed Cutting on September 10th, 2012 9:19 am

    Josh, the unemployment rate is actually 14.6%, not 8% — and I also wonder about something called “variance” in that statistic.

    The Department of Labor reports six statistics, which are known as U-1, U-2, U-3, U-4, U-5, & U-6. The U-1 statistic is essentially the people receiving a weekly unemployment check, while the U-6 figure is the combination of all the others including those who (a) have given up a daily search for work but would work if they could find a job and (b) those working part-time because they can’t find a full-time job (the “underemployed”).

    In all prior recessions, the U-6 figure was reported as the “unemployment rate” — that is how we got “double-digit unemployment” in the 1970s and during the recession of the early ’80s. But GWB & BHO have decided this time to use the U-1 figure which is quite a bit lower than the U-6 figure.

    For example, recent college grads who haven’t found a job will not appear in the U-1 figure but do appear in the U-6 figure.

    Now as to variance, nowhere is there anything like a calculation of those with college degrees who are forced to work in jobs that doesn’t require one. In the last decade, the number of waiter/waitresses with a college degree increased by 81% and the number of janitors with one increased by 87%. I know an awful lot of law school grads who have passed the bar but aren’t practicing law.

    And one other thing not calculated is the women who – making a realistic assessment of the current economic climate – have decided this is a good time for them to have a child or two. At most this takes them out of the workforce for 5-6 years, they are still going to be looking for a job eventually and like the underemployed, really ought to be counted.

    Bottom line: the economy really sucks right now and the 8% U-1 statistic really doesn’t represent how bad it is.


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