Elections past and present
The 2012 election is in the books. I’ve heard from a lot of people who are glad it’s over. Apparently, they didn’t care for the constant junk e-mails and phone calls from robots.
I don’t mind the extra attention that politics gets in the lead-up to an election. After all, I studied political science in college, and I followed politics very closely in high school, too, so the past couple of months are right up my alley.
Well, they usually are. The most recent presidential election wasn’t quite as exciting to me as the one in 2008, and that wasn’t nearly as exciting as the one four years earlier.
I turned 18 in April 2004, which meant I could vote in the presidential election that year between John Kerry and George W. Bush. I was really active in politics my senior year of high school. Whenever we had a chance to choose our own topics for essays in English, mine were always about some political issue.
Debating politics was one of my favorite pastimes in school. My friends and I talked about it often, and I even sought out debates with complete strangers on Internet message boards.
One of my friends was really interested in space exploration, and he spent considerable time debating space-related issues on a Web site called <space.com.> I wasn’t nearly as interested in space, but I liked arguing, so I went to the site to engage in arguments with the people there. After a short time, I was really hooked on the site, and I went there every day in search of a new discussion, oftentimes unrelated to space.
Once I got to college, I got the chance to talk politics every day in my political science classes. A few professors keep their opinions to themselves but a number of them do not. I remember vividly the debates some of the outspoken students had with their professors during class.
Looking back at it, that 2004 election seemed to be a lot more emotionally-charged than this year’s. That’s probably hard to believe if you’ve just watched a year’s worth of negative ads, but the issues back then seemed to be weightier than the ones now.
Issues pertaining to terrorism and war took center stage in the debates and the convention speeches back then, whereas there was little interest in foreign policy matters from either candidate in 2012. It seemed like more people believed the Apocalypse would occur if the “wrong” candidate won in 2004.
The war in Afghanistan was not quite three years old in 2004 and the war in Iraq had just begun the year before. What did the future hold? More war? More terrorism? Nobody knew. Now, discussions of Iraq are off the table, and Afghanistan is on the backburner. Obama and Romney struggled to distinguish themselves during their foreign policy debate this year.
I became so engrossed in the election in 2004 that I would stay up late debating people on the Internet. I knew I needed help when, at 2 a.m. one night, I sat at my computer refreshing the message board’s home page every few minutes to see if a new comment had come in. Luckily, I’ve since broken free from that crazy obsession. Now I only do that until 1 a.m.