A little help for the undecided

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George says he's conservative, yet compassionate. Al wants to be judged as his own man and not tied to that other guy. Two men. One election. So much confusion. Who really is the right man to lead us into the 21st century? And how can I be sure I'm making the right choice come Nov. 7?

As the debates faded into memory last week, I found myself politically perplexed. When it came to the presidential election, uncertainty is the only thing I was feeling sure about. I needed guidance. I turned to the Internet for answers. I hoped maybe somewhere in cyberspace I'd find a resolution to my impasse.

Trolling the information highway, I stumbled onto "President Match." Here's what I needed: an election "decision guide."

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President Match promised a Web site all about issues. No personal attacks or talk of fuzzy numbers - a place free from the half-truths, mixed metaphors, and muddled messages of our presidential campaign. All I had to do was answer a few minor questions about such things as abortion, gun control, affirmative action, and taxes - and, in less time than it takes Al Gore to reel off a story on the benefits of a middle-class tax cut, I would have my very own candidate match. I flew through the exam like yesterday's newspaper, clicking on my answers with confidence and conviction. When finished, I took a deep breath of satisfaction and leaned back to await my results.

Tension mounted as I sat in anticipation. This was downright exhilarating. Who would it be? George W. or Al Jr.? I tried picturing them both at the top of one of those schoolroom presidential calendars. You know, the one tacked on the wall in fourth grade with the presidential mugshots around the border. I visualized future headlines: "Bush pledges to shore up military;" "Gore proposes tough new environmental standards."

At long last, the moment arrived. My input had been digested, analyzed and spit out. I allowed myself a mental drum roll and then - there he was. I had my man. According to President Match, my ideal presidential candidate was ... John Hagelin. Huh?

I had heard of the name - but barely. All I knew of John Hagelin was that he tried to commandeer the Reform Party Convention and was a scientist of some sort. Could this rabble-rousing egghead really be my guy?

President Match said yes. He scored 65 percent on my criteria test. But, John Hagelin? I tried to keep an open mind. So, who was this Hagelin and what did he stand for? I clicked on his smiling face, and the world of Hagelin filled my screen.

I found out he's the nominee of the Natural Law Party and a Harvard-trained physicist. His main message: "Voting for Bush or Gore is a vote for the status quo and a vote against what's possible." His party believes that the only way to overcome the human problems of crime, drugs, violence and pollution is "through an expansion of consciousness." I clicked again, and Hagelin's stance on each major campaign issue popped up on my screen.

Parental notification for minors' abortions. No opinion. Affirmative action. No opinion. Tax credits for stay-at-home parents. No opinion. I was starting to worry that my candidate would never go out on a limb, when I noticed that he did strongly favor school vouchers and a cut in the capital-gains tax. He strongly opposes Medicare coverage of prescription drugs. Then, I was a bit baffled to read that he "somewhat opposes" the death penalty. I wondered how one would go about "somewhat" executing someone.

So my candidate, John Hagelin, believes that government should take a stronger consciousness-based approach. I liked the sound of it. I suddenly wasn't so ashamed of my President Match.

Before logging off, I tried out one more headline: "Hagelin pulls election upset of the century." I shook my head. About as much chance as Harry Truman defeating Thomas Dewey.

Robert Tate Miller is a screenwriter.

(c) Copyright 2000. The Christian Science Publishing Society

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