Post-Election Angst: The Lost Campaign of I.P. Freely
By Dan Seymour
Given the unbearably close nature of this year's presidential election, I really hate to throw even more excrement into an already highly clogged toilet, but I've got a gripe and I've got it bad. This complaint will no doubt delight conspiracy theorists and political cynics such as myself; indeed, I expect that the Green Party will have a parade. Maybe they'll even have a ball pit that I can play around in. I love ball pits.
The truth is that the last thing I want to do is stir up even more controversy when all I want is to hear more about the Knicks and less about Bush on the news, but I feel that it's my civic duty to bitch and moan, even at the risk of sounding like a small child who by some unjust twist of fate was actually given the right to vote.
But the fact of the matter is that as a 21 year-old, I do (supposedly) have the right to vote, notwithstanding my felony convictions (just joking.) The requirement for property ownership to vote, I believe, was abolished in the late 1980s. And in this election, my right to vote was abridged, not because of the color of my skin or because of a confusing butterfly ballot, but because of a massive conspiracy against college students. Allow me to elaborate.
There is, it may surprise you to know, a clandestine conspiracy to keep college students from voting. The motive? College students are more likely to vote for hippies, pinkos, tree-huggers, libertarians, write-in weirdos and other such also-rans. The last thing the existing government needs is growing support for people like Jesse "The Body" Ventura and Ralph Nader, and probably the biggest thorn in the existing government's side in this respect is college students. College students, at least the ones who actually vote, have a tendency to write-in "Mickey Mouse" or "I.P. Freely."
The first problem for the college students, however, is that election day is held on a Tuesday when nearly every school is still in session, which means that they can't vote in their home county unless they attend school close to home, which is for lamers, and lamers vote conservative anyway. So, if you're a college student away from home on election day, what's the alternative? In some cases, it's not voting at all, which obviously appears to be what the majority of us do. This is just fine by the politicians. They saw and were deeply frightened by what unified, educated, and politically aware and motivated college students who put their heads together were capable of when that frat guy swallowed 72 goldfish however long ago. (Didn't he die?) But for that small percentage of us college students that would actually like to exercise our right as citizens and cast our vote, the absentee ballot is our only reasonable option. And here's where the conspiracy comes in.
About a month before the presidential election, I sent in my application for an absentee ballot. As of right now, about four months later, I am still waiting for it. I've talked to many fellow college students who have also said that they never got their absentee ballots either. What could be responsible for this? Filing errors? This is the government we're talking about here. Columbia House doesn't make those kinds of mistakes.
So I think the most viable explanation is also the simplest one: there is a widespread, underhanded conspiracy to keep college students from voting. Why else would they have asked me on my application if I attended college? Stupidly I said yes, and consequently did not vote in the closest election in history. We're talking about a tremendous demographic here.
I know you're probably sick of reading about Nader by now, but my vote would have been cast for Nader, and Ralph Nader needed every vote he could get. This is truly a shame since it's obvious he's just about the only man in politics who is interested in the common good rather than soft money and Japanese hookers. (Well, everyone's interested in Japanese hookers, but the soft money part's still true.)
Of course, he will never come close to rivaling the support of any politician who is fortunate enough to run under the ticket labeled "Democrat" or "Republican" because nobody believes that change is possible. Nobody, of course, except young people.
Throughout our nation's history, it has been the old farts who backed stale and boring causes like tough-on-crime silliness, and it has traditionally been the young people who backed and energized progressive causes, like consuming dangerous amounts of LSD, a cause still widely supported on college campuses across the nation. Even though it's fun, however, consuming dangerous amounts of LSD isn't enough, although it sure as hell comes close. It is nearly impossible to engineer a fundamental grass-roots political movement if denied the right to vote. All the LSD in the world will not put Ralph Nader in office, although it will greatly enhance the appreciation of Credence Clearwater Revival.
So it's unfortunate that it's the old farts who are in charge, and have the authority to tell their secretary, probably a sixty-something woman named "Claire" with curly hair who wears too much make-up and chews gum, to please disregard all applications for absentee ballots from college students. That way they can conveniently throw away a large number of the votes for Nader and Mickey Mouse and I.P. Freely. But my whole point is that those are the more important and interesting votes, the votes that tell us what people really think. Those are the votes that don't come out of fear, as did so many would-be Nader votes that instead went for Gore. Those votes are the voices of our youth.
Not that Washington cares about the voice of America's youth. This mostly stems from the common myth that the voice of America's youth sounds a lot like Fred Durst of Limp Bizkit. In Washington, they're all getting fatter and don't see a need for change, so what do they do? Silence the voices that are difficult to hear.
This is all to say nothing, of course, of the extraordinary difficulty of the absentee ballot process in the first place. From school, I began the process of getting an absentee ballot in September. I had to write to my county clerk to get an application for an absentee ballot, and he sent it to me. Then I sent in the application for the absentee ballot. Assuming he had sent me the ballot, I would have had to send it back. That's five mail crosses for one vote. One dollar and sixty five cents for one vote. While the process is a nuisance and impossibly complex for us, it's really quite convenient for the politicians.
They get to keep telling everyone that less than half of all people vote, which keeps the public disinterested. Public apathy leads to less scrutiny, which leads to more they can get away with. It's a very simple process, and it doesn't appear that young progressive movements have much of a chance of breaking the cycle. How can they, when the absentee ballot process, the only feasible option for the majority of college students who wish to vote, is so impossibly complicated and corrupt?
I think it's sad, it really is. What else is there for me to do? I can't vote, and politicians certainly aren't going to listen directly to my demands, although if they did I can assure you that we would see a lot more laws forcing people to dress up like Batman. As long as I'm not able to vote, however, I'll just do what the rest of young America does, namely load up on LSD and listen to some Credence to ease the pain.
Dan Seymour was born in New York and currently resides in New Jersey. He enjoys nothing. Believe it or not, he owns a douche bag.
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