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The Minnesota Daily

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The Minnesota Daily

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Is the whole United States going insane?

Americans don’t think much of their presidential candidates.

It might be the stress of having completed a half semester of strenuous classes thus far, but it feels as though I am going crazy. And with the release of a New York Times 2004 presidential poll, I found myself looking up a word in the Merriam-Webster online dictionary that I was pretty sure I had an overall strong handle on. The word in question was that of “favorable.” In looking up the word, I was able to come to the conclusion that I was, in fact, not going crazy. But I came to a far more frightening realization: Perhaps our nation, as a whole, is drifting toward insanity.

On March 16, The New York Times published the results of its most recent presidential poll. It asked the 1,206 people surveyed wide-ranging questions surrounding this year’s presidential campaign, from who they support, to their stances on various issues. Questions two and three seemed to stand out the most for me. They were regarding whether you viewed the presidential nominees as favorable. The polling data showed that 28 percent of those surveyed viewed Sen. John Kerry, D-Mass., and 40 percent viewed President George W. Bush, favorably. This is when I had to consult the dictionary for how the term “favorable” was defined.

The dictionary defines “favorable” as giving approval or being pleased with. Dictionaries often suggest synonyms to help readers better understand a word. In the dictionary of public opinion, only 28 percent would include Kerry’s name as a synonym for the word favorable, while 40 percent would include Bush.

In a country of approximately 290 million citizens, I find it extremely sad that our political system cannot put forth two candidates for the Oval Office who are at least viewed favorably by a larger percentage than our current choices. I also find it sad that the public at large will simply fall into line by November and vote for Bush or Kerry despite their low favorability. This is the downfall of our current two-party system. Feeling entrapped to pick one or the other – or worse yet, one in spite of the other – is not what the selection of my president should be about. This might be the naive ranting of a politically inexperienced thinker, but I pray that it isn’t. At least to my satisfaction, I showed that our country is the insane one, not Merriam-Webster and me.

Jeremy Johnson is an English student at Concordia University-St. Paul. He welcomes comments at [email protected]

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