The Common Good
September-October 1996

The Only Election Guide You'll Need

by Ed Spivey Jr. | September-October 1996

American democracy is the envy of the world. And millions of us will wake up on election day and realize just how lucky we are before deciding not to vote.

American democracy is the envy of the world. And millions of us will wake up on election day and realize just how lucky we are before deciding not to vote.

Bunch of sourpusses.

But the rest of us—the patriotic citizens who value our freedoms and who, if called on to serve, would gladly make the ultimate sacrifice (specifically, giving up our favorite TV shows to watch U.S. soldiers fight on CNN)—we will vote. We'll carefully look at the issues, re-sponsibly select the people with the most integrity, and then faithfully go to the polls to cast our vote. Unfortu-

nately, nobody with integrity ever runs, so we'll just vote for somebody else.

But let's look on the bright side. The campaign is almost over, and so are the months of acrimony and negativism. But enough about Kathy Lee Gifford. We're here to talk about the race between Bill Clinton and Bob Dole.

For one thing, the media are pleased that the long-awaited GOP convention has finally taken place. After months of having to awkwardly refer to Bob Dole as "the presumptive Republican nominee," relieved journalists can finally call him simply "the guy who looks really uncomfortable talking to regular people."

Bob Dole: "Where are we going today?"

ADVANCE MAN: "A grocery store, to meet voters."

BOBDOLE: "What is this place?"

ADVANCEMAN: "It's where people buy food."

BOBDOLE (pensively): "Hmm. Is there a podium there?"

Come to think of it, Bob Dole is not all that good at speeches either. ("My speech writers firmly believe that...no, wait...I firmly believe that there is a clear difference between Bob Dole and Bill Clinton. We just haven't found it yet.")

Despite his awkwardness outside the Beltway, Bob Dole insists he's just your "average Joe." And to prove it he resigned his Senate seat last spring, rolled up his sleeves, and took off his coat to "get down to work." But then he couldn't get his coat off, since he'd rolled up his sleeves first and they got all bunched up. You can't do that.

But when Bob Dole took off his coat, America took off its coat too, and together we marched toward the...wait a minute. That guy in back took off more than his coat! Can somebody get over there fast and COVER HIM UP?! Much better. Thanks.

But seriously, Bob Dole impressed many voters this summer when he unilaterally took over the job of Surgeon General, assuring the American people that cigarettes were "not necessarily" addictive. Republican pollsters quickly pointed out that most voters thought he was, scientifically speaking, "off his rocker." Undaunted, Bob Dole simply rolled up his sleeves again and forcefully back-pedaled on the issue, clarifying that he is against cigarettes, but feels OK about teen-agers using school vouchers to buy them.

No, I'm just kidding. Bob Dole would never say a thing like that.

It was Bill Bennett.

FOR THISELECTION, choosing the right candidate will be easy, since we can take with us the handy Christian Coalition Voters' Guide, which helpfully divides the candidates into two easy-to-understand categories: "Republicans" and "children of Satan."

Not to be outdone, Sojourners has its own helpful election guide, though we have to be careful not to appear to endorse a particular candidate, since this would violate our non-profit status. (A status for which we proudly requalify every year by not earning a profit. Sojourners also qualifies for "Has Never Made a Profit" status, as well as the coveted "Profit? Does That Involve Salaries That People Can Hypothetically Live On?" status.)

But the law does allow us to talk with the candidates, to study the public record carefully, and, using the latest computer technology, to try to understand why Americans wouldn't invite either one of them into their homes (they might frighten the houseplants). Through our exhaustive research we now present the following helpful guide:

Sojourners Candidate Profiles

Bill Clinton: President of the United States, head of the most powerful nation in the world, and deserving respect from the millions of citizens he so selflessly leads. Also, one of his flunkies has my file.

Bob Dole: In Iraq, the word "dole" means "donkey's rump."

As you can see, both candidates have virtually identical qualifications for holding public office. In fact, we can think of only one issue where a candidate may be somewhat ill-suited for the job:

Bob Dole: Absolutely not! Feeding your people after your tank troops have eaten is not acceptable. And as president of the United States, I'm not going to lift those sanctions. You're not just dealing with anybody. You're dealing with Bob Dole.

Iraqi officials (giggling undiplomatically and drawing condescending little cartoons on a napkin): Fine [tee hee]. If you say so, Mr. ... uh... 'dole.'"

That troublesome issue aside, we feel that either candidate could effectively lead our nation for the next four years. (OK, with Bob Dole, maybe two, two-and-a-half years. When he turns 75, Bob Dole will leave his work behind and begin his migration to Florida, where others of his species have been gathering for centuries to fulfill their final destiny: to wear bad shorts and look for sea shells.)  

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