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The Elephant Gun
September 20, 2002
By Mark W. Brown

NOTICE: Declaration of Hunting Season

From now until November 5, 2002, it is hereby declared to be open hunting season on a particular breed of elephant, running unchecked through the wilds of America with a blind eye turned towards all of her problems. Physical characteristics of this breed include a strange mix of features from two types of birds - the chicken and the hawk. Other telltale signs of this breed of elephant include a tendency to open the mouth and emit noises that make no sense at all, ostensibly as a means of releasing hot air.

Further, the elephants tend to be covered in a sickly brown substance. Observers believe this occurs when the elephants flock to the dominating male as he expels waste, then roll around in it in an attempt to make it look presentable before jamming their heads up the hindquarters of the dominating male, which seems to make them feel safer. These elephants pose a threat to the livelihoods of Americans as well as anyone worldwide so long as their natural enemies, the donkeys, remain in a state of confusion as to their purpose. If sighted, it is imperative that a group be organized to neutralize the threat. The elephant is too big of a threat to be handled by any one person.

BY AUTHORITY: CollegeDudeNews Wildlife Department, 18 Sept 2002

Before I turned 18, I was always excited about getting to turn 18 not because I'd get to buy porn or cigarettes whenever I wanted, but because I would get to register to vote. That would mean, I figured, that my opinion would then matter, that my voice would be listened to because I would then be a person who voted. Truth be told, the most frustrating thing about the 2000 Election as the aftermath took place, was that I wasn't even old enough to vote and what I thought was thus irrelevent.

How shocking it is for me to now be old enough to vote and realize that my opinion is still mostly irrelevent in the political process, save for this web site. Why is that? Because, silly person, I'm under the age of 25 and liberal. Didn't you know? Everyone under 25 is liberal, that's just the way it is, and what they think doesn't matter because they'll grow out of it when they get into the real world. And anyone who isn't a dirty liberal who is under 25 just deserves a pat on the back for emerging from their cocoon that much sooner. Right.

There are several reasons why the opinions of the college student - particularly the under-21 college student - are mostly disregarded.

1. The myth that most college students (or even many college students) are people with radical left-wing ideals that they are bombarded with in "liberal" public institutions. People, let me tell you, I wanted to believe this was true before I got to college, because I figured I'd show up on campus and there'd be all of these other liberals with lots of ideas of how to better the world. Then I came here... and I found that I was the biggest liberal, with the most ambitious ideas.

2. College students, or at least most of the ones I've interacted with, tend to not care enough to vote. This could be for many reasons - they are disillusioned with politics, they just plain don't care about what happens to them or anyone else, they think that by not voting they're making some sort of statement - but the end result is all the same.

3. Anarchists. Let's face it, whether or not it's truth that most people who turn protests into riots are college students, that's what they are perceived as. And it all perpetuates the myth of a dominating "radical" sentiment in colleges.

4. Along the same vein, it seems like a lot of college students that actually do vote, tend to vote for obscure or third party candidates. I'm not saying that this is a bad thing, especially when it comes to third party candidates, but really, one person walking around my campus talking about "The Electable LaRouche" does more damage than a hundred members of the College Democrats can undo - and there are only twenty of us on a very good day.

Without a solid voting bloc in any party, the college student only has as much power as his or her individual voice carries, and even then only realizes as much as his or her ambition allows. It seems that this will remain the situation until the way things are perceived can be changed. This must be done either by regaining control of the media and fighting such myths (unlikely) or else from the inside - somehow making most students care enough to follow politics and vote their conscience.

The roundabout point that I am making here is that each of us has our strengths that we can best use between now and Election Day - and onward - to go and hunt these elephants. You almost certainly know your own strengths better than I know your strengths, so this is something we'll all have to determine on our own. What are mine? Well, it seems like one is a bit of a knack for the written word that I probably don't utilize nearly often enough. One thing I'm sure of is that one of my strengths is not doing any face-to-face work on the campaign trail, because I'd not be able to shake a feeling of my work going for naught. But when it comes to writing articles, if even one person reads this and thinks, "Gee, what am I good at, and how does that help me hunt elephants?" then I have done my job.

Me, I'll be looking into ways to try to rally the college student from the inside. Will I come to a solution by November? Honestly, not likely, but that's not going to stop me from trying. Lately, I've been giving serious consideration to making a run for a leadership position in the College Democrats of America organization next time elections come up. (I had actually been keeping these plans secret until now, but I also know that my own low confidence in my plans tends to blunt my ambition, so hopefully making it 'public' on DU will help people keep me from backing down.) I figure there can't be any better way to try to actually do something about the sad state of affairs that is student involvement in politics currently. After all, worst case scenario, I get to find out how good of an orator I can be when I really apply myself.

It is open season on the Grand Ole Party, ladies and gentlemen. Let's do some soulsearching, then break out the elephant guns and shoot for control of Congress.


Mark W. Brown is a college dude who writes this article with apologies to his friend I Abibde, who first coined the term "the elephant gun". He can be reached at mbrown3@umbc.edu

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