What The Hell Happened To Dole?
January 1997's Debate

January had been quiet . . . too quiet. Ever since the election, Aarron had been unnaturally closed mouth about talking the topic of the presidential election. This is very unlike the Professor. Now I'm not saying that I didn't mind the fact that Aarron wasn't willing to address this topic. I often try to keep myself ignorant of things like that. A simple life is the best for me. However, even I feel domestic politics are important . . . and not because I work for a newspaper.

The first election that I was eligible to vote in was the 88' election where Bush ran against Dukakis. Now up front I have to say that I'm a registered Democrat, but I've never been one to play party politics. I vote based on whom I feel is the best candidate. That year I voted for Bush. In 92' I voted for Clinton.

Now I know there are problems with the current way elections are run. I, like many feel that special interest groups and big business have way too much say in the election. I also hate the concept of the Electoral College and being the true means of victory. But I have always been of the mind that not voting is the strongest statement that you want others to control your life.

"Get to your point Mister Benson!"

I knew the Professor's lethargy wouldn't last. "I have no point Aarron, I'm just talking about politics."

"If you want to talk about the election, explain to me how the hell Bob Dole lost?"

And just like that, the gauntlet of pain had been thrown to the floor. What was really unnerving was the fact that out of nowhere, Vince and Mercedes appeared in the office with a determination in their eyes I haven't seen in a long time (or was it just bad gas).

Vince went straight for the refrigerator. "Benson! Beer?"

"Oh yes! There's a six pack of Sam Adams in there . . . just bring the whole thing over, I'm going to need it."

As Vince walked by the Professor, Aarron pulled a bottle out of the sixer and opened it. "You brought this upon yourself Benson. I was more than willing to not broach the subject, but you had to open your big mouth and wake the sleeping dog."

"I know . . . hey, you don't normally drink beer . . . in fact I've never seen you drink since I've known you."

"So."

Uhhhhh. "Never mind."

Vince broke the silence. "I'll tell you what happened to Dole, he was old."

Aarron found such humor in the statement that beer almost shot out of his nose. "Please Vince, age wasn't a factor, just look at Ronald Regan. Age was just a red herring thrown as a supposed subject by the Democratic media machine."

Vince immediately took the defense, which is uncommon with him. "You think that because I usually have some half-baked idea on a topic, usually involving large quantities of beer, that what I have to say has no merit."

"That is usually the norm," answered the Professor.

"I wasn't finished Aarron. Age was precisely the factor, regardless of the Democratic amplification of it. I am not talking about his age, I, and apparently the voters, could give a crap less about that. What I am talking about is the fact that he represented a time long past and was basing his whole campaign on some hopeless dream of rolling the clock back to those days. He was standing on a plank that revolved around three concepts that were all anachronistic in their nature."

I was waiting for Graves to explode at Vince. It was the first time I had ever seen Hozehead even challenge Aarron. Normally he would take the safe bet and side with the Professor. As I saw it, it wasn't going to be pretty.

"And what would those three concepts be Vince, seeing as you have decided to stick your neck out and try to compete with my intellect."

Mercedes snickered at that one as she sat in the couch, a bottle of Anchor Steam in her hand. "Don't let that ego get to big Aarron. I think your Republican ass has finally backed itself into a corner and is about to get spanked."

Now unlike Vince, Mercedes was often going toe to toe with Aarron, what are girlfriends for so this didn't surprise me."

Vince brought us all back into line. "As I was saying . . . the first was their open statement that America, as a country, should spend less time worrying about the affairs of other nations. In so many words, they said we should fall into a semi-isolationist mode."

"And what is so wrong with worrying about your own people instead of some piddly third world nation that we have nothing to gain from by helping. I guess it's okay to have Americans living on the streets and starving."

"Remember what happened the last time we decided to not get involved in matters outside our own country just because we seemed to have no gain through involvement . . . it was called World War II and 13 million deaths in the military alone . . . there is no firm figure on the civilians. Although we do know that 9 plus million people were wiped out in death camps, and the Soviets wiped out a shit load more. Yep, none of that affected us, it's only room to breath."

"And number two Vince, since you seem to be on a roll."

"Well Aarron, number two is the fact that the supposed family values that they blabbered about could never be achieved unless the following was achieved. [1] No abortions, period. This is the reason teens are so Sexually promiscuous . . . of course I won't mention the fact that tens were doing the mattress mambo and getting knocked up before Roe V Wade. [2] Prayer in school . . . the lack of the guidance of the ten Commandments is the root of all of our social ills . . . never mind the fact that they were the same commandments that nobody followed in the "good old days." [3] Divorce granted only on infidelity . . . so what if hubby treats me like shit and my life is a shambles. I have to think about the kids and the detrimental effect of my husband being forced to pay child support (Yes Newt). [4] No government involvement in the raising of children . . . who cares if Timmy has bruises because his pop beat the crap out of him, who are educated people specializing in these things to say that dad isn't right."

"Oh please Vince, I think you are going a little too far on that."

"Say what you will, but if you roll back the clock and watch all of those hours of C-SPAN you taped, you'll see those are exactly the ways of achieving the family values return that were proposed. Anyways, third was the simple fact that a society, any society has to move forward. To go back is the first step on the road to destruction. We use history as a means of learning and making sure we don't do them again. The problem is that we seem to think that the things that worked in the past will work again. Wrong. Just dumping garbage in the dump worked in the forties but will it work today . . . retroism is not good for a sociaety, weather it be bell bottoms or politics."

Amen to that brother.

Aarron whipped his head around at me with a very preturbed look on his face. I swear to Doug that he can read my thoughts.

"Not literally Mister Benson, but your thought process is easy to figure out. So tell me, who did you vote for and why . . . in a short paragraph please."

"I voted for Clinton. I may not agree with everything he stands for. Nor do I think he has a sheet white moral record, but I had to vote for who I thought would do the best for the country."

The Professor nodded, with no indication that he was going to rip my statement apart. "Mercedes?"

Miss Chance responded immediately. "Well Aarron, I also voted for Clinton. I don't care for him at all, but the Republican candidate and the party itself pissed me off. I hate tokanism and this election was filled with it. There were token women allowed to play with the boys, and there were token blacks there to make people think that the party wasn't filled with a majority of racists."

Aarron tilted his head and turned to Vince. "I can already predict your answer Hozehead . . . Ross Perot."

Vince laughed at that one. "Sorry Aarron, I made that mistake in 1992. No, this year I voted for Clinton. At first I was a Steve Forbes guy, but when he didn't make the cut, I had to go with Bill. Bluntly stated, I don't think Clinton will accomplish a damn thing, but I knew for a fact that Dole wouldn't. And who did you vote for Aarron?"

The Professor got up from his chair and headed for the door. This was distrubing to say the least. He did not want to argue, and he did not once call any of us stupid. I was willing to let him leave . . . take the easy victories when you can, but apparently Vince is not as smart as I am.

"Come on Aarron! Don't tell me you voted for Perot! For Christ's sake Aarron, you're a registered Republican. You've voted Republican since the days of Nixon."

But Aarron wasn't speaking to any of us. I was starting to get that caged animal feeling and began looking for a way out of the office.

And Vince kept pushing. "Who!"

Aarron opened the door and began leaving. But just before he closed it behind him, we heard him say, "Clinton."



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