Voter apathy drove me to drink for the cause

By June Bunch, Opinion Editor – kbunch@unca.edu

10/21/2015

To rectify for the times when no one I knew wanted to watch the candidate debates, I stocked my fridge with booze-filled briberies and advocated for the 2015 cause.

“For democracy,” I said, clinking bottles and cans.

We decided on rules as we went:

Drink when former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton gets caught revising her standpoints, especially when she says things like “I have a range of views.”

Sip when Sen. Bernie Sanders pounces on “casino capitalism” and Wall Street issues where he claimed fraud as a business model.

Clink glasses when Sen. Jim Webb mentions Vietnam or vocalizes his lack of time to talk, wasting his time to talk.

That sort of thing.

When we came up with characteristics worth noting in each candidate, we drum rolled. Our coffee table had mini earthquakes every time the camera cut to Webb’s tight-ass fatherly frown, Clinton’s inciting stare, Sanders’ excessive hand gestures, former Rhode Island Gov. Lincoln Chafee’s wobbly funeral director smile or former Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley’s go-green-energy power fist.

We came to the table with different reasons for watching.

Some people came to call the candidates’ bluffs. Others came with blank slates, awaiting democratic decoration. A few wanted to know what this guy Sanders was all about, after seeing so many grassroots posters and fundraisers around campus.

Also yes, a handful of folks truthfully only attended for the beer, but so be it, I was glad they were there.

I took careful notes and observations while others glued their eyes to the screen with un-masked intent, memorizing as they went.

The few glazed eyes at least looked like they were watching the screen, even if merely sitting tight for another cue to drink.

I like to think even they soaked up some factoids for later, intended or not.

Perhaps the whole ordeal was a bit less customary, but I wanted to find a loophole of involvement, a non-traditional route of mixing politics with something less of a drag.

Because after all, the young votes were the least likely votes and I was up for challenging that expectation. These college kids needed to watch a good old fashioned debate.

I fantasized about a cluster of ‘I Voted’ stickers adhered to shirts all over campus, and I wasn’t about to passively allow that image to slip. Issues were at hand.

So there we were, memorizing faces and bearing witness to the names we might have overlooked on the ballot in November.

Besides, where else would we see each candidate within spitball throwing distance of their competitors?

It was juicy stuff.

And to be honest, I didn’t expect them to be so comraderous.

In the debate, the participants lacked any blunt, degrading language that the living room grew accustomed to during the Republican debate with Donald Trump. It was kind of refreshing, sticking to issues for once.

Climate change came up with O’Malley putting the issue to the top of his executive order, encouraging a clean grid of solar and wind power. Sanders called it a moral issue requiring carbon tax. Clinton agreed with the problem of climate change but offered no real solutions and Webb stood alone, strongly supporting coal, offshore drilling and the Keystone pipeline.

A beer cap flew at the television when Webb admitted his energy preferences, I turned around but couldn’t figure out who threw it. I didn’t really blame them.

Black Lives Matter came up for debate when Sanders and O’Malley took a favoring stance in the fight against racial inequality while Clinton took a backseat, mentioning a “New Deal” for those of color, but not stating any solid agreeance with the issue.

Our humanities class had just covered the topic of racial inequality the week prior and I had a fresh, statistic-driven perspectives in favor of the matter, so I gave Clinton an awfully long look.

Sanders was questioned about his gun control policies and answered advocating against gun manufacturer liability and background checks when Clinton, O’Malley and Webb argued for tougher control over the National Rifle Association.

We had some pro-gun and anti-gun folks in the room and at that point paused the debate to figure how guns ought to be controlled. After bouncing points back and forth, the majority agreed with the need for background checks, but you should come up with your own stance on it.

Clinton’s email controversy made way to question, and Sanders shut it down.

“The American people are sick and tired of hearing about your damn emails,” Sanders said. We cheered. The audience on TV cheered. We carried on watching.

Immigration issues clarified Sanders’ views against Bush’s reform policies and solidified his opposition to guest work with low wages as he fought for a higher minimum wage. They also showed Clinton’s insights on aiming for higher wage American jobs.

From jobs to banks, Wall Street reform was introduced to the debate and sparked a major difference in campaigning. Clinton favored the Dodd-Frank reform law which fees banks and watches for “shadow banking.” Sanders wanted to reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act the Clinton administration repealed, an act which made investment banking a different area than commercial banking. Method-wise, they differed, but both aimed for less powerful banks.

Finally, Clinton brought up Planned Parenthood and elaborated on her support of the organization under context of family leave while everyone else in the debate spoke nothing of it.

But to be fair, it was a lot of listening to Clinton talk, so perhaps there simply wasn’t the time for others.

Looking back at the amount of speaking time per candidate, Clinton reached roughly 31 minutes next to Sanders in second at 28 minutes. The other three candidates got less than 20 minutes each, showing O’Malley at roughly 18 minutes, Webb at close to 16 and Chafee at less than 10 minutes to speak.

With the debate at a close, everyone came to their own conclusions.

I concluded that everyone ought to pick up their trash and get out of my house so I could write an article, and here it is, still with leftover chips from the debate to snack on.

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