Election Day is less than one week away, which means if you haven’t already picked your presidential candidate, now would be the time. Unfortunately, it’s hard to get down to the issues without getting distracted by all the campaign buzz-words. If you haven’t been paying attention to the debates and endless speeches, there are a few election phrases that you may have missed. Here’s a no-brainer look at six of the most common talking points of the election.
[voting] Note: The goal here isn’t to give a fully detailed explanation of the issues in the upcoming election. Instead, you should know what these phrases mean, and why they are important to you.
Given the rate at which American troops are dying in Iraq, and the lack of manpower existing ever since the early days of the war, there seems to be a massive need for new troops. Military enlistment is low and officials are extending tours of duty for those already in Iraq. Men and women are needed to help with police enforcement, protection, and reconstruction in Iraq. The only solution seems to be a draft. Both President Bush and Senator Kerry recognize the growing need for new manpower in the area. During the Vietnam War, the draft was used, but most college students were exempt. However, there are rumblings that the college restriction may be lifted if there is a new draft. Neither candidate seems to be in favor of a military draft, but this doesn’t make it any less likely to occur if either Bush or Kerry is elected.
“Patriot Act”
In October 2001, both the House of Representatives and the Senate passed the USA Patriot Act, whose purpose was to “deter and punish terrorist acts in the United States and around the world, to enhance law enforcement investigatory tools, and for other purposes.” Opponents of the Patriot Act believe that it violates Constitutional rights by giving exceptional powers to various levels of government. President Bush insists that the Patriot Act is vital in preventing another terrorist attack because it allows better communication within law-enforcement organizations. In the second debate, Bush said that terrorist cells have already been neutralized because of the Act. Senator Kerry said in the second debate that the Patriot Act should be reformed, but not necessarily scrapped.
“Weapons of Mass Destruction”
The main justification for the invasion of Iraq was the belief that Saddam Hussein and his government had weapons of mass destruction, had the ability to build weapons of mass destruction, and had the intent to distribute them to terrorist organizations. The term includes both nuclear and biological weapons. John Kerry, along with many other senators, voted to invade Iraq, based on information that was given by the Bush administration. However, there is no evidence that the U.S. military has found any weapons of mass destruction, nor any evidence that Iraq possessed any such weapons before the war.
John Kerry’s biggest disadvantage has been his Senate voting record. He voted to go to war in Iraq and he voted for the Patriot Act. But in this election, he has attacked the President on both of these issues. Bush/Cheney ads have used the phrase ‘flip-flop’ to define Kerry as a noncommittal politician. Kerry’s main defense, given in the first debate, is that he is only guilty of putting too much faith into the President.
“Pre-emptive Military Action”
The Bush administration defined U.S. actions in Iraq as a ‘pre-emptive military action.’ In other words, the United States acted in Iraq to prevent Saddam Hussein from attacking America in the future. However, there has been little evidence to prove the claim that Iraq possessed the materials capable of attacking the U.S. No WMD’s have been found, and an accurate link between Saddam Hussein and al Qaida has yet to be uncovered.
“Civil Unions”
Both Sen. Kerry and President Bush oppose gay marriage. President Bush has said on many occasions that he will ‘protect the sanctity of marriage,’ meaning he will preserve legislation that prevents gays from having the right to marry and will support bans on gay marriage. Senator Kerry, however, supports civil unions for gay and lesbian couples.

For more information, visit the candidate’s websites at www.georgewbush.com and www.johnkerry.com.

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