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News & Editorials
How to Pick a President

The Common Man’s Guide to Election 2000


How to Pick a President in Five Easy Questions


Ren Patenaude

Polls and pundits, statistics and statesmen, the media and the maniacs, et al. It’s enough to make your brain hurt. All in an attempt to convince the common man (and woman) that “their” candidate will be the best public servant on earth. This leads me to my first question: Who is the mythical “Common Man”?

Since I think I am, I’ll try and pull this puzzle apart.

As background, I am a 37 year-old white male, the fifth of six children, who didn’t finish college. I’ve had a job (actually many) since I was 12. My parents are solid middle class (OK, maybe a little upper middle class), and are now retired. I should probably add that they are STILL married, and that I knew nothing of the “His, Mine, and Ours” family makeup that actually existed, until I was a teen.

I am a happily married police sergeant (yes, really) with four children. Two step-daughters, and a daughter and son. I list my step-daughters separately only for the reader’s benefit; we live as a family and I am “Dad”.

My parents were very much into letting me fall on my face, if I insisted on doing so. Make no mistake, there was discipline when required, and love and support. They realized as I got older that no matter how much advice they offered, I still had to find some things out for myself. So I had my successes and my failures, and I learned that things you worked for were far more valuable than things you were given. My father is a Republican, and my mother a Democrat. Both have never changed their affiliation, and neither feel obligated to vote solely on that basis. Neither did they ever coerce me into voting for the “good” party, against the “evil” party, or even to vote at all.

When I was 18, I sat them both down and asked them which party I should register with. Both told me to use my limited life experience, do a little homework, and decide for myself. “There is no right or wrong party”, they said, “Only ideas and issues you like or don’t like”. So I picked the one that inspired me the most. That was 1981, and apparently unlike some of my fellow citizens, I remember what the world was like then. Over the years I have seen and done many things that have shaped my opinion of the world, just like everyone else, and have an understanding of politics in general. My boss is the County Sheriff, an elected official, and I’ve served under five different ones from both major parties. It should go without saying that a cop’s salary, even an 18-year sergeant, hardly qualifies as part of the wealthiest 1%. My wife works per diem as an ER nurse -- an RN I helped put through college after the birth of our third daughter. I’m as economically average as you can get.

So with that out of the way, question #2 is, Are you a giver or a taker? I’m a little of both, in that I pay LOTS of taxes. My property tax here in NY is approx. 3.5% of the purchase price of my home, ANNUALLY, and I’ve used education grants and am a government employee. A better question is, Do you think your community, friends, and neighbors owe you something? Question #3 is, Do you believe in a zero-sum economy? This means in order for you to get richer, someone else MUST get poorer. I don’t. Even if it were true, the U.S. economy deals in the TRILLIONS of dollars. That’s $ 2,000,000,000,000 – 12 zeros – a truly astronomical amount of money. You could practically cover the surface of the earth in one-dollars bills with what the U.S. spends every year. Question #4, therefore, is Whose money is it? I’ll answer that with another question: How many lines on Your paycheck stub show money that you made, that you’ll never see? Question #5: Do you trust yourself with your own life? I’m a cop, a man, a husband, a father, a son, a gunowner, a homeowner, a taxpayer, an AMERICAN. I’ve read Orwell’s 1984 , and it sure doesn’t look like Utopia to me.

Lastly, don’t listen to SPIN. Spin sucks. Again, read 1984.

So don’t listen to what any candidate says about his or her opponent. Don’t listen to scare tactics. Pay attention to what each says he will do, and if his record backs it up. It’s 10/31/2000 now, and if you haven’t decided on who to vote for yet, you must be living in a vacuum.

I am the “Common Citizen’, and for all the reasons above, I’ll vote for George W. Bush.

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If we lower our standards, we lower the flag. — President Ronald Reagan

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