Responsa: Go Out and Vote (Vol. 58, Issue 3)
To the Editor:
In our tiny microcosm of Yeshiva College, it is easy for one to lose touch with mainstream America. Although many of us come to Yeshiva College for the sheltered environment which it offers, it is crucial that we not forfeit our right and obligation to vote in the upcoming elections. Although the question of who is better for Israel should be of paramount importance to us, it is also important that we concern ourselves with other issues.
This election may be one of the most important ones in the twentieth century. Twelve years of Reagan and Bush Administrations are responsible for the dire straits in which the American people finds itself today. George Bush prances around talking of great things to come. He says that he sees great things in store for America's future, yet he offers no substantive plan or policy. He consciously ignores (or is completely out of touch with) the realities and hardships which middle and lower class Americans face. Health care, taxes, interest loans for students. These are real concerns. This is what needs to be addressed. Governor Bill Clinton has addressed these issues. He's got ideas, plans, and policies that he's ready to implement that have been proven to work in his own state of Arkansas.
President Bush has only been unnerved by the charges made by his opponent, but this is only because he's not used to answering questions about real issues. His mode of campaigning uses sweeping generalities in place of specific programs and plans. He has no strategies of his own, so he can't attack Gov. Clinton on an idea level. Thus, herein lies the Bush campaign's dilemma: how do you campaign for the re-election of an incumbent who has done nothing beneficial in four years, who won't do anything constructive in the upcoming four, and who has no platform?
The answer is quite easy. First, you get James Baker to step down from his post as Secretary of State, and get him to head up the campaign. (Besides, now that they have the Israelis under their thumb, Jimmy's work is done!) Then you construct a platform based on nonissues. However, it's not as easy as that. You see, you need some title, or heading for all of these topics that aren't of primary concern to Americans. You call them "Family Values," and that way you make yourself a platform. You make yourself a select group of citizens and send Dan Quayle out and about harassing people who don't fit the mold. The problem with this, especially in times of growing racial tensions, is that it is exclusive and not inclusive. If you are an upper class, white, Christian, married individual who is raising children, you're in and Pat Buchanan will be happy to process your party membership. If you are a middle to lower class black, single mother, Hispanic, Moslem, Buddhist, Asian, Gay or Lesbian, then you can't join. Not only won't they let your join, but Bush's Republican Party will send card-carrying members Pat Robertson and David Duke to go out and burn a cross on your lawn if you try to justify yourself on the simple grounds of being an American.
What's terrifying is that the Bush Administration gets away with this sometimes. Many people say, "Well, he's talking about issues." But the question we must ask ourselves is, "Is he talking about important issues, and issues which he can do something about?" To that question, the answer is a resounding "no!"
This is not a plea for the students of Yeshiva College to vote for Bill Clinton. It's not even a plea for them to vote George Bush out of the White House. It is a desperate cry for them to wake up! We all have a great power in our right to vote. It is a right for which thousands of people have fought for years. If you are a student over the age of eighteen not yet registered to vote, put this paper down and go do it now. Then, get educated about the issues. Make your own decisions. Remember, your choice will affect your future. Most importantly, VOTE on November 3!
Demand that the University give us some time off from classes to vote. We are the only school in the city of New York which does not get off for Election Day. If there hasn't been a schedule change by Election Day, then skip class on November 3. Show the country, the University, and yourself that you respect yourself enough to stand up for your constitutional right to vote. Remember, people who are eligible to vote but chose not to have no right to complain about the state of affairs in American politics.
Ethan J. Ciment, YC '93.