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As election season heats up, try to not only get involved but to understand the issues

By Anthony Lauriello     1/17/12 6:00pm

With the resignation of John Huntsman Jr., yet another one of the Republican primary candidates has thrown in the towel on his presidential ambition. It now seems almost inevitable that Mitt Romney will clinch the nomination, and if he wins in South Carolina it is highly likely the remaining opposition will have no choice but to concede. The campaign is now driving full force out of the farcical circus of last year's colorful contenders and entering the long brutal general election that is the "Super Bowl" of American politics.

As my few and sparse friends know, I am a natural curmudgeon to all things including politics. Therefore, as we move into this next phase of the election, I have a few requests of my fellow Rice students to make this election season go a little bit smoother for us, despite our different political presences.

Facebook is a wondrous thing. How else would we stalk our romantic interests as we wistfully dream about gaining the courage to talk to them? However, it is not good for expressing well thought out opinions on the complicated issues that affect our country. It is fine to post a status about an issue that interests you every now and then but please I beg you not to be the "Facebook Professor" who posts lengthy statuses as if you were David Brooks or Brian Williams.

Speaking of, while the Honor Code might not be in effect whenever you open your mouth, that does not mean you should just repeat ideas you heard or read like a parrot. Too often do I hear opinions that are verbatim requisitions of things I read yesterday. Essentially it is verbal vomiting, consuming ideas and then just spitting them out again. While penguins might enjoy their food chewed up and thrown up, people do not. Simply restating something as your own makes you look less, not more, intelligent. The worst is when two people do this at the same time, like two people with open mouths each reciprocating their own retching.

For those few who have ever read my previous columns, the next request will be very predictable. This year it will be easy to follow the horse race aspects of the race such as the nationwide polls or what "Saturday Night Live" is lampooning this weekend. However, despite the sometimes-nonsensical features of our electoral system, this election represents an important ideological choice about the nature of our government in our lives. This election will undoubtedly get ugly, on both sides. Due to a pessimistic nation burdened with a floundering economy, the candidates in the general election will go so negative that the Republican primaries will look like Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood.

An influx of corporate money after the Citizens United Supreme Court decision will mean they will also have more funds at their disposal as well. However, remember that beneath all the ugliness this is an important act and represents the peaceful transition that has allowed this country to prosper. I desperately urge you to read deep into the issues and develop opinions of your own and to take pride in the democratic process ahead of us.

Anthony Lauriello is a Wiess College juniorand Thresher Backpage editor.

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