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Oh there you are. You really can come out now. We've been looking for you for a long time, you know. Seriously. We can see you under that pile of overpriced textbooks. Yes, the presidential election is in full swing after pit stops in Philadelphia and Los Angeles, and it's about time we made our so-called voices heard. To provide a quick refresher for those who have had better things to do with their time, I've sorted out the previous year of campaigning in the next 197 words: Former President George Bush's son went to Yale, learned that the Texas National Guard is close enough to Vietnam -- it's certainly closer than Oxford -- and failed in the oil business. His hobbies include following the Texas Rangers and executing people. He's running for president because it was really cool when his dad was in the White House. Al Gore went to Harvard, roomed with Tommy Lee Jones and married a girl named Tipper -- 'nuff said. He's amazingly boring, but got lucky to match up with someone more snooze-worthy in the primary. He's running for president because the Democratic Party is guaranteed a spot in the general election, and he's the sitting vice president in a party starved for leadership. If they could, the Democrats would overturn the 22nd Amendment and nominate Clinton just to stick it to the Republicans. Early exits: John McCain ran as a war hero and reformer but energized more Democrats than Republicans. Bill Bradley went to Princeton and got what he deserved -- loser status. Also-rans: Ralph Nader is still unsafe at any speed, especially with the Green Party. Pat Buchanan and John Hagelin dismantled and embarrassed the third party movement. So that's the wrap-up -- but the rest is up to you. You see there's this thing that we get to do in this country -- our forefathers actually risked their lives for it -- elect our executive leader once every four years. Some of you are political junkies who have been waiting for this chance to vote for a long time. Others may not like any of the options -- trust me, that's understandable given the choices. The weird thing about voting is that for every vote that goes uncast, the others carry a greater weight. And some other voters are voting for Buchanan. That means in your silence, you are supporting candidates you may dislike, in my case Buchanan. (And to the Buchanan supporters out there, feel free to send letters -- we're all dying to know who you are.) Don't buy into the hype that by not voting you're making your displeasure heard. What you are doing is undermining our entire age group. Why do you think the major issues in the general election are prescription medicine, health care and estate taxes? Why aren't they college loans, the war on drugs, campaign finance reform and the wage gap? Because you don't vote. Our age group volunteers more than any other, but when the time comes for the voting booth, we shy away from our civic duty. The walk to DRL really is quite taxing, isn't it? Instead, we'd rather the senior citizens in Florida and the soccer moms around the country select our leadership and dictate policy. We'll stay at home and complain the system is corrupt. If we don't vote, we'll only reaffirm what our elders already believe -- that we're a collection of apathetic, uninterested slackers, underachievers of the Bart Simpson mold, Nintendo-raised zombies who don't give a damn. But we're more than that. We have a conscience, we haven't sold out -- yet -- and we can tell the nation we're not letting them give up on us. Go out and vote. Vote for Bush, Gore, Nader, Hagelin or, heaven help us, Buchanan. Go to the voting booth to write in someone you think is willing to serve and would do a good job. Write in McCain, write in Bradley, write in Keyes, write in someone who at one point made you say, "Damn straight!" Know this: Your vote will not decide the outcome of the election, even in a tight race in an important electoral state like Pennsylvania. What it will decide is longer lasting. Your vote will make our generation a voice to be heard and catered to in future elections. Then you can crawl back under your work -- you'll find out that four years from now, the politicians will be knocking at your door, asking what issues matter to you

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