Campaign 2000

Most voters remain indifferent

You might think this year’s presidential race would be exciting: going into the stretch, Al Gore and George W. Bush are running neck and neck, and both parties have at least a chance to control Congress. Not many voters, however, are on the edge of their seats. Most of the interest in the election so far has been polite or mildly irritated. The stakes are real, but do not move us very much. And issues aside, relatively few Americans are finding candidates they love; even candidates to hate seem in short supply. (Hillary Clinton still stirs juices, of course, especially on the Right, which ranks her as a rival to her husband for the status of arch-fiend. But the Left has to scramble for equivalents: Newt is off-stage; for most voters, House Majority Whip Tom DeLay is too obscure; Pat Buchanan is sinking-and not slowly-into the bog of irrelevance.) Even the voters who make it to the polls in November may have moments of wondering why they came.

At the moment, Al Gore seems likely to win the presidency and it’s a good bet the Republicans will keep majorities in both houses. Times are good, after all: in political science, the most sophisticated models, based on economic data, are all predicting a Gore victory, some by very wide margins. Actually, it’s more complicated than that. With an exuberant stock market and an economy running at high speed, Middle Americans in the millions have been tempted to take their...

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About the Author

Wilson Carey McWilliams, contributed regularly to Commonweal. He taught political philosophy at Rutgers until his death in 2005.