In anticipation of Nov. 7 Election Day, supporters of Vice President Al Gore, Gov. George W. Bush and consumer advocate Ralph Nader gathered at a Faculty Fireside discussion with Prof. Stuart Blumin, history, to discuss the upcoming Presidential election yesterday evening in The Straight Art Gallery.
Blumin, a self-proclaimed “political junkie,” led a small group of Cornell students and Ithaca residents in a discussion about the election’s issues and implications.
Blumin expressed his concern about voter apathy among college students. “What I want to learn is, where are the young people? As you can see, they’re not here,” he said. He offered the reason that “good times rolling on and on is an expectation of many young people.”
“People think that the purpose of politics is to improve [one’s own] luck,” Blumin said. “There’s not a lot of civic consciousness in that.” Instead, young people should get satisfaction from voting by participating in the political process, Blumin said.
Cornell students offered their opinions on why young people feel unmotivated to vote. “A lot of important issues haven’t been addressed. Social security is being targeted [because Florida is such an important state to win], which is alienating younger voters,” Scott Beemer ’03 suggested.
Blumin expressed doubt about the security of abortion rights won in the Supreme Court’s 1973Roe v. Wade’s decision which granted First Ammendment protection to women’s right to choose. “I’ve heard that business that Roe v. Wade will remain secure if three conservative justices replace the moderate justices who may retire or die. It’s hard to imagine that [it] will stand,” he said.
He conceded, however, that it is hard to predict how justices will act after they are appointed. “It’s certainly not an open and shut issue,” he said.
Discussion turned to Nader as Blumin conveyed doubt that Nader will get the five percent of the vote he needs for the Green party to receive federal funding.
“I think the major thing that should have gotten people really angry is that Nader wasn’t allowed to debate . . . That was true censorship,” Dan Pellathy ’03 said.
Blumin noted that the televised debates between the presidential candidates have become practically meaningless events that are over-managed and are focused more on image-making than issues. “Now the process is run by the two major political parties, and the [television] networks recognize their authority over this,” he said.
The networks would have generated a larger audience if they had convinced the parties to allow Nader to participate in the debate, according to Blumin.
Although Blumin acknowledged that the elections are long and tiring, he said, “I’d like to argue that it’s a good thing,” adding that elections arouse public discourse about issues that people generally ignore when they are not bombarded with stump speeches, political advertisements and debates.
When asked about which candidate would win Tuesday’s election, Blumin claimed to have a precise answer. “I don’t know,” he said.
Archived article by Stephanie Hankin