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For those of you too busy with shopping classes over the past few weeks to follow the goings-on on the campaign trail, here is a quick and painless introduction to campaign 2000. This is a glossary of sorts, detailing what you need to know to be an informed citizen and voter in the primary elections. Campaign 2000, A to Z:
Arkansas. Thankfully, we can now forget that this state ever existed.
Basketball. Bill Bradley was a professional basketball player. A few years ago, while playing a pick-up basketball game with members of Congress, Al Gore '69 broke his leg and spent six months in a cast. Chalk one up for Bradley.
Cream Soda. Bill Bradley has blamed his recurring heart arrhythmia on his switch to drinking diet cream soda, which contains caffeine. He has since switched to diet orange soda. But what sort of a presidential beverage is diet orange soda?
Dixville Notch. Residents of this small town in northern New Hampshire were the first in the nation to cast their ballots. There are about 25 voters there. They vote Republican.
Electors. As you'll remember from high school civics, we don't actually vote for the President. We vote for the electors, who vote for the President. For an interesting take on the electors, read the fictional account that CNN journalist Jeff Greenfield wrote several years ago, on what might happen if the president-elect is killed by a horse. But no matter--we all know that the media picks the president, anyway.
Felons. In most states, convicted felons are not allowed to vote. In Massachusetts, they may; at times, they've even held public office. Both Democratic candidates have showed a willingness to review the much-criticized current law on the matter, which should ensure a Democratic victory in Concord, Framingham and Walpole.
Guam. George W. Bush is the only candidate with an office in Guam. They usually vote Democratic, but maybe not this year. Guam is not to be confused with American Samoa, where Dan Quayle made his famous "happy campers" speech.
Hillary. Would she have such a love for New York if it weren't an open seat?
Iowa. A state with a unique primary system, in which voters listen to candidates talk about farming, then go to a local high school gym and stand in the corner to be counted.
Jenny Craig. In the most intriguing "political ad" of the season, Monica Lewinsky's commercial for the Jenny Craig diet sure beats the ad with George W. Bush in a sweater.
Kennedy. What would an election year be without the Kennedys. Two are running for re-election this year: Ted and Patrick.
Late-night TV. A campaign can be won or lost on the late-night TV talk shows--remember Bill Clinton and his saxophone on Arsenio? Already, we've seen Hillary on Letterman. Can other candidates be far behind?
Manchurian. In the 1962 John Frankenheimer film The Manchurian Candidate, a former POW war hero is brainwashed and becomes an assassin in a Communist plot to take over the presidency. John McCain is known in certain circles as "The Manchurian Candidate."
November. The presidential election will be held on November 7, 2000.
Open Primary. For those of you who are not registered as either Democrats or Republicans ("unenrolled"), don't fret. In an open primary system, like that in Massachusetts, you can vote too. This means that the liberal-leaning among you could take a Republican ballot and vote for the candidate least likely to win.
PAC Money. The true engine of the electoral process, funds from political action committees (PAC) are the big bucks that pay for a modern media campaign. Individual contributions, however, are often more interesting. Data from the candidates' mandatory Federal Election Commission filings are on the web, and searchable at www.tray.com/fecinfo. (Try searching for zip code 02138.)
Quizzes. Should our president be able to name the leader of Pakistan? The pop quiz craze, prompted by a Boston political reporter's questions for George W. Bush about world leaders, seems to have passed. Apparently, it only served to remind voters how little they know about world news.
Register. In order to vote in the Massachusetts presidential primary on March 7th, you must have registered to vote by yesterday, February 16.
South Carolina. A very important primary. Also, land of Strom Thurmond and the Confederate flag. I'm taking wagers on which one will go first.
"Time." Boston for political fundraiser. Usage: "We met at Ted Kennedy's time."
Underwear. In 1992, an MTV viewer asked candidate Clinton the famous question, "boxers or briefs?" In 2000, we don't want to know.
Vice President. Unfortunately, this year's vice presidential contest is unlikely to provide a more classic campaign moment than the 1992 three-way vice presidential debate between Gore, Quayle and Stockdale. When Stockdale looked into the camera and asked, "Who am I? Why am I here?," a new era of political existentialism was launched. The political process is still recovering.
W. Nickname for George W. Bush.
X-Files. How else do you explain Steve Forbes?
Yale. George W. Bush went to Yale. Bill Bradley went to Princeton. Al Gore '69 went to Harvard. You make the call.
Zzzzzzzzz. This campaign is poised to become the most boring in recent memory. Here's hoping for some interesting moments in the upcoming primary season. Candidate John S. McCain, quoted in the New York Times, said the following: "I think humor is really important. I've thought it was important all my life. I think it's important in these kind of, what sometimes get to be high-pressure situations." I wholeheartedly agree.
Noelle Eckley '00 is a environmental science and public policy concentrator in Dunster House. Her column appears on alternate Thursdays.
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