Doping, or steroid use for those of us who aren’t baseball fans, has been banned from major league baseball. I propose that they ban doping from American politics as well.

If you’ve watched the four-day political ads that are our political conventions this summer, you know what I’m talking about. What has ensued for most of this election cycle is the media equivalent of both parties trying to out-flex the other through vague and abstract campaign slogans that go something like: “Republicans: Vote for us or prepare to be labeled as girlie men!” or “Democrats: You shut up – we’re strong too!”
Both candidates seem to have forgotten that they’re running for President of the United States, not Mr. Universe. But maybe that’s exactly what America wants – a doped-up beefcake rather than a leader. Democrats are at a natural disadvantage, not having someone like Governator Arnold and all, but they try to make up for it by portraying Democratic nominee John Kerry as Rambo.

Of course, “strength” as a political campaign theme existed long before George W. Bush. After all, it was Ronald Reagan’s intense, anti-commie mental rays that destroyed the Berlin Wall, saving a few hundred thousand babies from the horrors of the Soviet Union, all the while ridding the world of all welfare queens. But while the Gipper was unmatched in his cock-strut, at least he had some sort of domestic vision for America, even if it involved putting America’s finances six feet under. The Bush-Cheney campaign theme, on the other hand, has been about who can draw his six-shooter faster against those dastardly terrorists.

Sadly, the Democrats have been reduced to playing catch-up with the Republicans in regards to which party fights evil the best. But not to be outmuscled, the Democratic National Convention functioned as one, massive testosterone injection for the normally softer, more compassionate party. The word “strength” or some variation of it was featured prominently in each of the DNC’s daily themes. And who can forget when vice presidential candidate John Edwards cast away his boyish charm, sent a chilly gaze right into the camera and told the terrorists, “We will destroy you”? I’m sure that sent Osama bin Laden to his mommy.

The star of the show, however, was Kerry, who took center stage at the DNC to remind everybody that his name, in actuality, is John Rambo. Invoking memories of his service in Vietnam, Kerry reminded everyone that, since he’s proven he can kill communists, terrorists are cake.

In an attempt to redefine the war hero image of GI John, the Republican National Convention’s theme was simply this: “John Kerry is a pussy.” Small bandages with Purple Heart stickers on them were displayed prominently on delegates throughout the convention hall, mocking Kerry’s war wounds. Only the Republicans could take a decorated war veteran like Kerry and turn his name into some sort of euphemism for the female genitalia, but they did it, and for that they deserve some sort of recognition. All the while, images of the burning twin towers reminded us that, in that bleak hour, Bush was able to rise to the challenge of invading two, count ’em, two, countries and killing a whole boatload of terrorists, none of whom are named Osama bin Laden or, as I like to call him, “He Whose Name Shall Not Be Spoken.”

But where does this leave us, the American people? In the gutter, that’s where. In the wrestling match that is electoral politics, it’s as if the last thing on people’s minds is the issues. As the federal deficit balloons, college tuition skyrockets, health care becomes less affordable for everyone and more people drop into poverty, the politicians and the pundits want you to stay focused on the demons that are outside our borders rather than exorcising the demons within.

Republicans and Democrats have different domestic visions for America, and I recommend that you, young voters, get smart about the issues that affect you before you vote in this election. Osama bin Laden may be our archnemesis overseas, but if we lose focus on the issues that affect us from within, we risk becoming our own worst enemy.

Neil Visalvanich is a senior political science and history major.