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Old 01-16-2004, 09:28 AM   #1
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Your polical history

So FYM--what and who shaped you to believe what you believe? Tell us your story!

My parents both were pretty conservative as I grew up, or rather my father, 26 years career US Army (Beat Navy! ), was conservative and my mother raised my sister and I and didn't offer her opinion all that much. (Would it surprise anyone to learn they're divorced now? ) I thus thought I was republican through high school, though I remember moments of instinct even then that said it wasn't right for me.

I spent most of college fairly apolitical, surrounded with pretty conservative, intelligent and thoughtful Christian friends. It didn't take me long to figure out I didn't agree with them on all the issues. I didn't think being gay was a sin, and I didn't like abortion but maintain and still maintain that supporting women (and girls) who don't want to have one is a better way of "fighting" it than screaming "babykiller" outside of a clinic. I did some local community service, but no real activism. I hated Clinton and was alternately amused by him, but agreed with some decisions he made. I have to honestly tell you, I don't think I even voted in 1996 (was too young in 1992). I listen a lot to a conservative Christian talk show, Janet Parshall, who I can tell you was a lot more reasoned and moderate then than she is now, after 9/11. I can't even listen to her anymore.

Then I became a teacher and my own politics began to solidify, rather than those mimicing friends and family. It didn't take me long to see that many republicans--especially in the counties where I taught--didn't want to fund schools adequately. My sense of history grew from teaching literature as well, and I devoured guys like Mark Twain, Emerson, Thoreau. They preeched self-reliance and small government, things I had learned to associate with the republicans. But I just couldn't sit right with the issues of the Right as they stood in 2000. I wanted progess on racial unity and poverty and peace and fighting corporate corruption. I researched and held my breath and voted for Nader, liking his stance on education best and I'm still impressed that he was screaming about Wall St and corporate corruption long before Enron. He supported more funding, treating teachers like professionals and reducing standardized testing (NOT to be confused with reducing standards).

The Peace Corp was also a huge influence. I served in Africa, teaching English, and there I finally learned to connect the dots between what my gut had been telling me about US foreign policy and human rights and poverty, and I began to wonder why I had ever considered myself conservative. The Peace Corps was my edcation about the fact that poverty does not just happen--it exists in a system that can and must change. I joined Amnesty Int'l when I returne home, and began supporting the Drop the Debt movement (thanks Bono! ). I'd done so ever since, and love being a part of the social justice community. Sept. 11 was also a huge influence--I felt like I had to get involved with the world again, as much as I had been in the Peace Corps. Writing letters for Amnesty and signing a check for the Christian Children's Fund suddenly wasn't enough. I wanted it to be my full time life again. Sept 11 may be why I left teaching English for peace work. It's funny, I never liked Bush much, but felt protective of him after those days. I even quit calling him Shrub for a few weeks. I agree with him that evil exists, and that it must be fought, but don't like how he's fighting it. I didn't protest the war in Afghanistan, but hated the war in Iraq (though I sure don't miss Saddam). And to bring us to right now, I'm working on my PhD now at ICAR, which teaching international conflict resolution. I plann to work for the UN or a peace building/economic justice NGO once I'm done. And there we are.

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Old 01-16-2004, 11:36 AM   #2
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I grew up in a very open minded household. My parents were liberals so I was liberal for most of my youth. Growing up in Massachusetts we have supported many a liberal candidate. I always thought as a youngster that I was going to go into politics and started reading and learning about Massachusetts politicians at a young age. This would explain my fasination with the Kennedys.

Nightly conversations were aqbout our dislike of President Reagan and Bush. My Parents supported every democrat in between. During my Jr and Sr. year in High School I made a few trips to Washington DC through 4-H Programs. I spent time meeting with Senator John Kerry and Senator Kennedy. I have Photographs in my collection presenting both with 4-H awards from the State of Massachusetts. On one of these trips, I met Congressman Gerry Studds. he was one of two gay Congressman from Massachusetts. I was offered an interneship in his local office. I worked in his local office for two years handling case work and minor clerical work.

In college I went to a Conservative Evangelical Christian School. Quite the opposite of my political leanings. Many did not like my politics nor my Catholic background. I majored in history. I spent time writing articles in the college paper that were counterpoint articles to the conservative point of view. I worked on Gary Hart's campagn for President helping to set up his local office. I worked on getting him on the ballot in The New England States. After my freshman year my parents divorced and I could not attend college.

After that I joined the military, supported Perot. I never liked Clinton, nor did I like Bush Sr. Clinton drove me out of the democratic party, not just because of his personal life but for many reasons that I shall not get into here.

I had to put myself through college. My parents were divorced. Neither would fill out the FAF for loans ect. I had to do it myself. I was in a bad place. I worked my but off in the military, impressing a Colonel in the reserves who offered me a job in civilian life. I worked the midnight shift at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel in Boston. Then I went to college during the day. I paid for my college, had my own apartment, my own car.

And that, is why I am a Republican. I busted my ass to get all that I have in this world. I was pumping gasoline, out of college, partying, water skiing, golfing. I was feeling sorry for myself. When I joined the military everything changed.

When I graduated college, I continued to work at the Ritz, I got married, and put my wife through school to get her Master's Degree in Special Education. Then we put me through school to get my teaching credentials. Finally, after a year of teaching we bought a house. Again, we did it together, working our asses off.

Now that I have been living in a town for eight years in a nice little ranch I have become more involved in politics. I am a "James Carville" of sorts around town. In local politcs we are not so much concerned with party politics. I enjoy it. I have run for the Republican Town Committee and won. I have attended the last State republican Convention and helped to Elect Mitt Romney. Locally, I was very involved in unseating a politician who has been a slelectman in town for 48 years. This was a very big thrill. Picture Boss hog Dukes of Hazzard.

I do not think I will run for office now, I prefer to be in the background, working on the campaign, making the calls, organizing the people, polling on election day. That is my speed. I resigned from the republican town committee and unenrolled from the party and am an independant.......

I spend my time doing charity work in my local Lion's Club. I work every Saturday collecting bottles and cans from various pick up ceters and from the local transfer station. I have been the manager of a project called Serve for the last six years. I tend to look for local projects because I like to see charity work begin locally. Maybe because I try and teach kids that they need to make a difference in their own neighborhoods so I am trying to practice what I preach.

Sorry if this was a big long where near as good as Sherry's

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Old 01-16-2004, 11:49 AM   #3
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Politics is based on religion here as much as I hate to say it.
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Old 01-17-2004, 02:10 AM   #4
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Hmmm, wow, let's see here...

I've also grown up in a very open-minded household. Opinionated one, too-particularly with my dad, which would explain why I'm so opinionated. Looking back through some of my journals from when I was in my early years, and some of my early posts on some boards back in earlier times as well, I noticed I have changed slightly over time, but not that much.

For instance, a while back I found a paper I'd written way back in elementary school in which I actually said that T.V. was a bad influence on people. And I had written an essay back in fourth grade for a contest (which I did win first place in) talking about why I loved America. I still do love this country itself, but my views on some of the people who live in it, and the government in general, have definitely changed, especially after learning in some of my high school history classes how some people in this country have screwed others over.

A couple of areas I haven't changed in-I vaguely remember the Gulf War, and that's where my whole anti-war thing started-it just scared me as a whole, and as a kid it never made sense to me how war solved problems, and still doesn't make sense to me now. I also was heavily into saving the earth, and still think it's extremely important to do so.

Other than those areas, though, I didn't really have any political views on any other issues. I was too young to remember Reagan that well, and didn't pay much attention with Bush Sr., either. I was perfectly happy watching cartoons and playing with toys and everything.

Then Clinton came along, and by that time I was old enough to start paying some attention and understanding better what was going on. I'd never really had much of a problem with him. There may have been a few areas where I didn't agree with him (like with the issue of school uniforms, for instance), but overall, I liked him. Middle school was where I did gain some opinions on things, even though for the most part I pretty much followed my parents' line of thinking without hearing the other side's views that often.

All that changed once we got the Internet. By then I was in high school. I started meeting kids on various boards who were very opinionated about a lot of issues (my friends in school were never really willing to get into debates about various things), and became more willing to get involved in those sorts of discussion. I learned a lot more about many issues, and got to hear the other side's views much more often. And through that, I found I didn't agree with a lot of what they said (with the exception of affirmative action-that's one area I do agree with most conservatives in). And that's why my views sit the way they do now. I do still agree with my parents overall on practically every issue, but at least now I have some of my own reasons and a better understanding of why I feel the way I do, instead of just automatically parroting theirs.

Three big areas in which I developed the views I have without any help from my parents, however, are in the areas of money, religion and homosexuality. I'd never really had one set opinion on homosexuality one way or the other. The earliest memory I have of even learning about it was when I heard that Nathan Lane, the guy who did the voice of Timon in "The Lion King", was gay. It surprised me at first, but then I moved on. And after we got the Internet, and once I got to know a few more homosexuals online and everything, I started to see that it didn't bother me at all. I didn't understand what the big deal was.

Religion...I was baptized as a baby, and then once I was old enough, back when my grandma (my mom's mother) was still alive, she had my mom, sister, and I go to church with her every Sunday. My dad didn't go, 'cause he never really felt comfortable in church in general-but I didn't find that out until I was older. And when we went to church, I remember I did not like it. I found it boring, and never paid much attention to what was being said.
Then my grandma died in '95, and my family stopped going to church on Sundays because of that. My mom did have me go to confirmation classes in middle school, but I never finished them. It just wasn't my thing. I personally feel I can be perfectly fine worshipping God without having to go somewhere to do so.

As for money-my family's had various times where we had some troubles financially, and that's made me much more able to relate to those who aren't that fortunate, and more willing to help them in any way I possibly can. I've learned to make do with what I have in whatever situations I find myself in. And I'm not obsessed with money-I personally feel the world'd be much better off without it, crazy as that idea may seem.

Anywho, so on I went, having my opinions on things, but never really getting active in anything. But all that changed in my senior year, thanks in part to a couple of my teachers, who inspired me and made me feel like I had the power to change things. I participated in an anti-war walkout, and thanks to my interest in U2, I got educated on the issues involving Africa, and started writing to various people as a result, and even gave a speech involving the issue. It also helped that I found some kids at school who were as interested in the issues as I was.

And I intend, as I get older, to find more ways to get involved with whatever issues I feel particularly passionate about, be it joining various groups (I've actually flirted with the idea of joining the Peace's something I might look into sometime), or continuing to write letters, or participating in marches or walkouts, or whatever.

So, yeah, there's my story. Also long, but hopefully it explains things well enough for you guys.

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Old 01-17-2004, 02:51 AM   #5
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WOW, those are some great stories. Dread, i had no idea!

Well i'm from a Irish catholic household where tradition was always the way to go. My parents were never politcally involved. They never voted or really cared all that much. They cared enough to know what was going on but not to take any action.

I really dont know what i am, politically. In my province we have a strong conservative gov't. Since i've been old enough to remember politcs i have remembered our Premier. So that has had alot to do with some issues i stand for. I am pro-life and against same sex marriages but at the same time am for more gov't control on big business.

Since i am only 21 i havent had the oppurtunities to travel the world and be politically involved like some around here. I am very active in my Union and am organizing a 3000-5000 person march in a few weeks. That will be a big acomplishment for me as it will mark my first "protest".

I can still remember being young, 10 or 11, and coming to school after reading the paper and asking my teachers and schoolmates about what they thought on politcal issues, they would think i was crazy. Even into high school alot of my friends had no time for politics, and their indifference maddened me. I am of the belief that everyone of us has the oppurtunity to change what happens in our countries and we should take that opp.

What i realy wanted to say was that out of many things that have happened in my life, politically, Free your Mind was my biggest influence. When i started on here i was only 16 or 17 and was very naive. I even remember posting a question asking what a Dem and a Rep were. but what i have seen within these forums have really changed alot of my views on politcs. I can argue any side, and relish the opp. it gives me the chance to provoke people and really find out their opinons.

I thank everyone in this place for shaping my politcal views and look forward to contiuing to do so.
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Old 01-17-2004, 03:35 AM   #6
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My biggest political influences have definitely been my parents, particularly my dad. His family is Irish Catholic, strong working class, and supporters of the Labor party since they arrived in Australia. My mum grew up in Switzerland in a Protestant family, and her parents and siblings all support the Liberal (actually conservative) party here. Yet she became Catholic when she married my dad, and votes Labor also. I've only had one election (I'm 20) and I voted Labor then. We have a state election comingg up next month, and I'm trying to make a very informed choice! I've been reading the paper every day, checking out all the different policies and everything.

I always felt a bit left out when I was growing up because most people around me didn't care about politics, and certainly I didn't know anyone as passionate about it as my dad. He taught me from a young age the difference between liberals and conservatives, and why liberals are better! I studied history at uni and was interested in Australian politics, in the 1960s and 1970s especially. My parents have regaled me of stories of how their university education was free in the days of the Labor government, how Gough Whitlam put an end to Australia's involvement in Vietnam, etc etc etc. What I remember politically is the Liberal Howard government since 1996, who made me pay for my education and sent troops to Iraq and Afghanistan.

On the other hand, in my state we have had a Labor government for several years, and although I still prefer them to the Libs and will probably vote for them this time, there are some things I don't agree with. It's hard to find the perfect party to match my ideals because it just doesn't exist. This is partly why I am slowly becoming disillusioned with politics in general, I've seen - particularly on issues like Iraq - that I can't have everything.

I suppose the issue I am most concerned about is education. Having been a student myself for so many years, and also having seen my parents both going through post-grad study, I've seen different policies in action. The Liberal government, if they are reelected federally this year, wants to allow unis to charge up to 25% more than what students now pay through HECS (Higher Education Contribution Scheme), which will make city unis at least (like the one I went to) pretty much inaccessible to lower-income students. I really don't want Australia to end up like America, where only the priveleged can afford to get an education. So that's probably the issue that will decide which party I vote for.
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Old 01-17-2004, 04:51 PM   #7
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Being a little bit older than most of you, I grew up in a sea of change not unlike the industrial revolution. Only it was the civil rights and womenís revolution. Although I was a child when both of these phenomenons occurred, I can remember my parentís reactions to them including personal experiences.

Both of my parents were from rural Midwestern communities. One, a conservative Republican and one, a Democrat (although she didnít know how liberal when I was young). I had a stay at home mom until the early 70ís when a second income meant moving up the ladder of middle classdom, but also her liberation from only a homemaker.

All over my neighborhood mothers and wives were breaking away from the 50ís traditional roles. As a young girl listening to all their talk, watching them sneak cigs (cause their husbands would disapprove) ECT. Many of them ended up in divorce when their spouses were unable to accept change, including my own parents though they drug it out till 1980.

I remember finding my own voice in high school. Hating the racism that existed, the seemingly uncaring defacing of the environment by the ďestablishmentĒ, and the continued attempts to return women to traditional roles. However I remained a fiscal moderate. Add to that the occurrence of AIDS in the 80ís and a liberal social policy was born.

Iíve supported all Democratic Presidential candidates since I could voter in 1978 based on the larger pictures of pro-environment, womenís rights, and fiscal responsibility. However my state and local votes have been based many times on the person and his ideas. The discrepancy is due to the tied hands of an individual President to affect change.

Then I moved to the rural Midwest and my political awareness seemed to move to the background. I was raising my children living my life, and voting in each election. The came the election of 2000 and in comes GWB, the uniter (my ass). I was appointed to a local office and then elected. Although my position was neither R nor D my political awareness grew a 100%. My introduction to the WWW and satellite news furthered my education and sense of identity. No longer did I have to listen to a particular spin on the news, but could listen and read many views.
I even found many things that Clinton did that piss me off. (besides his BJ which I found unworthy of a civilized nation to give a shit).

Of course there are many other reasons for my views but truly, my main concerns are for humanity as a whole (not foremost nationalism although Iím a proud American), the environment, and womenís rights (as so many are still abused on this earth). Any candidates that cannot prove that these are their concerns are worthless to me. I can see a world united against poverty, against violence, and striving for the rights of all to equality. I donít see this as naivety only a goal and Iím not a pacifist, military might must be used to keep the above goals as the most extreme measure.

PS GWB has got to be the worst in my existence on all the above issues. I wouldnít vote for him on his environmental policy alone.
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Old 01-17-2004, 05:44 PM   #8
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my mother and father got married when they were both very young, they were hippies. then my father left while us 3 kids were at a young age. my mother's influence over how she raised myself and my other siblings had to do with more of a christian upbringing, being in church all the time, we lived by what we were taught by our pastors. whoever was running in the republican party, you voted for that politician. didnt matter what they stood for. i didnt know any better when i was growing up.

when i left to go live with my grandmother, i was confused, but i ended up learning so much, but not sure where i could stand yet. and sometimes im still at that place, seeing how things developed with the war we had just gone thru. my beliefs are somewhat mixed, issues leaning towards the democratic side, and my heart wanting to stay republican.
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Old 01-17-2004, 06:27 PM   #9
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my family is "a-political"

they never discussed it much growing up.
They are hardcore protestants yet they somehow still vote Liberal...I don't know if that's still the story, though

anyway....I never had ANY political conscience until university, any that I had was shaped by the very traditional church I attended.
yet...I suppose the pentecostal church is "liberal" compared to some other denominations...though that is debatable.

the point is, it was my history degree that shaped my political views. Social history was my major focus and I also did some political science (my prof was an american and did work for refuge camps all over the world)

Our history dept. was very left...some of the profs were closet marxists I'm positive.
since university I have been very interested in politics...I watch CNN and CBC news just as much as other shows.

anyway, I guess that's why I'm left.

I'm gonna have to work on my story telling if I'm gonna write a novel
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Old 01-17-2004, 07:09 PM   #10
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In my family, the only religion was science. What my parents thought politically was a mystery, when I once asked how my Mother voted she wouldn't tell me. I always thought politics were boring, and did right up until I married a man who had very definite ideas about the way things should be. He grew up all over the world, following his father's CIA postings in the fifties. As a result of this exposure to American government in all of it's paranoid secrecy, he has a very strong liberal bent, to the disappointment of his very Republican, NRA-for-life parents. He feels that the Republican Right will be the downfall of our country unless we can put an end to Bush's 'fuck you' policies. My natural inclinations eventually brought me to the same conclusions, and I fear that all of us, especially our children, will suffer from his mishandling of power in the end.
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Old 01-18-2004, 07:01 AM   #11
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When i grew up, my Parents were conservative (and my Father still is). Last year the first time in history there was a left Mayor in the city where i was born and where i grew up.
So everything there was verry conservative.
(Nice site note, at that election campaign where the conservatives lost, i really experienced that democracy works, verry few votes difference between the two candidates and i know that i personally convinced more people to vote for the other guy..)
I think that's why conservative was a long time a synonyme for "giving your friends the money of the government with semi-official government contracts" for me.
Well of course it was easy to find out over the years, that there is not one party "all wrong" and the other one just speaking the truth, so i call myself neither left nor right today.
Noone of these politicans (no matter which party) can do the brainwork for me and you. We have to think ourselfes, because on both sides most of the time there are politicans working for their personal profit (-> the lobyists who give them all the money), not just for their political ideals. Lots of them abuse our political ideals for their personal profit.
At the moment i'm thinking about "leaving the safe harbour" of my country and going to the 3rd world to make the difference myself i'd like to see in this world.
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Old 01-18-2004, 08:17 AM   #12
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Growing up, my parents were very anti politics. Still are. I asked them for advice when I first had to vote and dad told me to donkey it. Mum said it wouldn't matter as they all will lie anyway. My early opinions were formed by who had the ugliest face. Nick Greiner's years were not good and Bob Hawke's end was a joy.
Seriously, for a long time now NSW has had a Labor premier and we've had Liberal Johnny for ages I think my state has become complacent. My parents were little help, my mum is not the type to get involved in issues beyond a humantarian level and dad is a 'new Australian' and even more disillusioned with ours than England's so my views I've had to find on my own. Booo. lol. Anyway I dont follow any party as there are always somethings I can't stand about either leader at state or national level. I'd vote for Bob Carr again purely for his stance on crime plus he's been around so long now he's like part of the furniture. It is hard to look at someone new objectively I find. But then again, he pisses me off for certain stupid things like banning jetskiiing in the harbour. Boohoo for him and his rich yuppy mates who wanted some peace and quiet. Howard I like for his balls. Work For The Dole is brilliant. His refusal to pander to the deadshits is applaudable. He is a tad keen to send our troops off everywhere like Timor, Afghanistan, Iraq but its not all bad. But then, he brought in the GST which I still don't like. I wont even touch the refugee crisis. I don't think he's a bad leader and the Labor possibilities are enough to make me move to another country, should they get in.
I still don't know where I stand really.
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Old 01-18-2004, 05:50 PM   #13
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Both my parents are "Regan Democrats" - they come from blue-collar, Catholic backgrounds and voted Democrat all their lives until the late 1970s/early 1980s when they started voting Republican. I think a lot of it has to do with religion - they saw the Democratic party as being too associated with abortion rights, which they oppose on moral grounds.

As for me, I didn't pay attention to politics at all until I was in high school. For a while I didn't know if I was conservative, liberal or what. I think I started to pay a little bit of attention in 1984, when I was a senior in high school, simply because of the Presidential election that year. I wasn't quite old enough to vote, though - I didn't turn 18 til the following summer. Anyway, I was dating a guy who was a big-time conservative, and I found myself arguing with him a lot on political issues, especially gun control. I think that's when I began to get an inkling that I had liberal views on some issues. Then I went to college, and it seemed like just about everyone was either politically indifferent or an Alex P. Keaton young Republican type. I started to speak out a lot on how I felt, which is strange because I'm very shy. When I was a freshman this gay/lesbian rights group on campus held this special day where you were supposed to wear denim to show your support for gay rights. I remember how my roomate was going to wear slacks that day, and I convinced her to wear jeans. But when I was finally able to vote in an election, I registered Independent, not Democrat. Actually, I still am registered as an Independent.

I voted for Clinton in 1992, and was pretty happy when he won. By the time 1996 came around though I was getting nervous about all the stuff he was being accused of (Whitewater, etc.) I couldn't bring myself to vote for either candidate that year and ended up staying home. I was really disgusted by the whole Paula Jones/Monica Lewinsky thing. I could understand people saying it was a private matter, but he lied about it under oath. I thought he had disgraced his party and his country, and I was mad at him for not putting the good of both above his own ego and resigning.

During the 2000 Presidential election I was so fed up with both the Democrats AND the Republicans that I barely screwed up the interest to go out and vote (I ended up going with Gore). Now, after three years of George W. Bush I am really looking forward to the upcoming election so I can vote against him and (hopefully) help put him out of office.

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