Lester: Donkey or elephant: the dilemma

Kerry Lester

“That’s a great car.”

“Oh yeah. It would be even better, though, if there weren’t a stupid donkey sticker on it. An elephant is way cooler.”

Believe it or not, ‘Novans, these comments were made by members of our own student body.

Obnoxious? Annoying? I vote for childish.

In fact, the conversation brought me back to 1988. I was six years old, and Michael Dukakis was running against George Bush for the presidency. My father, a delegate that year to the Democratic National Convention, had brought me back a gift – a stuffed donkey wearing a vest of stars and stripes.

Now, for a six-year-old, this is pretty big stuff.

I named him Duke, short for Dukakis. He was my ticket – my way to participate in a commotion I could not fully comprehend yet.

Honestly, I can’t say I remember much about the election that year. Vaguely, I can recall my mother commenting on Nancy Reagan’s red dresses and my dad discussing the “evils of the Willie Horton campaign.” But I do remember, for months before that first Tuesday in November, each time I heard a patriotic song or watched a political event on television, I would run for Duke. I’d wave him around in excitement. To me, he was far more knowledgeable and important than either Dukakis or Bush.

After the election that year, I tucked Duke away in a closet and haven’t seen much of him since.

Well, I was all fired up to rip apart this asinine conversation of my peers, until I heard Howard Dean and William Bennett’s debate over Parents’ Weekend. I realized that both extremely intelligent men, who possess incredible amounts of knowledge on world issues, were saying pretty much the same thing. It seemed as if their responses to every question posed were shameless plugs for their candidate of choice.

Come election time, very few of us are able to rise above the status of division by animal. We may be governors, graduates of Princeton, Harvard, or Villanova, but when push comes to shove, we’re all still six and asking the same question.

Donkey or Elephant?