Election Special Argives: “Student Packs Carry-On for Kerry, Catches Flight to Florida Polls”

“I feel like no matter what happens, I will never look back on this with any regrets.”

Eight years ago, Wesleyan students voted in the first presidential election following the 2000 Florida clusterfuck. Intent on getting Bush out of office, most students from swing states dutifully mailed their absentee ballots. But when Jeff Kessner ’07, a Palm Beach County native, failed to receive his ballot in the weeks leading up to the election, he decided to take action: he flew 1,360 miles home for early voting.

“For me it’s important,” Kessner told the Argus at the time. “I made sure that my vote counted.” Later in the piece, though, he acknowledges some degree of selfishness:

“I think it is amazing,” said Amanda Hungerford ’07, a friend. “Jeff was able to put his own disillusionment aside in order to effect change.”

To Kessner, however, it was actually a selfish act.

“I did something to just get one more vote,” he said. “In some ways I feel like I could have done more throughout the whole campaign to get more votes.”

If only he had. But, Kessner concludes, “I feel like no matter what happens, I will never look back on this with any regrets.” If you’re out there, Kessner, please confirm. Full article here.

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As an aside, it probably goes without saying that the mood on campus was dour after that election. (Even I was tearing up when my mom picked me up at school that day, and I was in eighth grade.) A Nov. 5 Argus piece says it all with this lead, which goes on to quote Kessner:

It was on the faces around campus. The combination of fatigue and disappointment produced a kind of forlorn, blank stare from Kerry supporters. Some shed tears. For others, going abroad was suddenly very attractive.

“It really sucks,” said Jeff Kessner ’07, who flew home to vote in Boca Raton, Fla. after his absentee ballot never arrived. “It’s surprising that we became more conservative. I’m really surprised about Florida.”

Others on campus expressed their angst through chalking:

Around campus, there were some frustrated chalkings and posters expressing hatred of the now two-term president. Students holding newspapers with Bush victory headlines talked to their friends about their sadness. Someone wrote, “I hate George Bush” outside the Bayit. Another chalked “The 60s aren’t dead” outside Weshop.

The next day, roughly 200 students and faculty gathered outside Olin for an antiwar rally. As Professor Jonathan Cutler summed it up: “It was a great start to the new Bush administration.”

Full Argus coverage of the post-2004 reaction here and here.

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