It is no secret that despite the stated intentions of the candidates, national political debate usually deteriorates into little more than a petty circus of half-truths and personal attacks. Never has this been truer than in this year?s presidential election. With our nation starved for untainted information and healthy debate, the Bush and Kerry campaigns and their allies have overwhelmingly focused on each other rather than the issues. It?s a shame, but it?s what we have come to expect from politics.

But a college campus is a place to defy such expectations, not meet them. What a shame, then, that the same kind of small-minded discourse we frown upon in the national scene has reached Bowdoin, an institution dedicated to open, honest, and mature debate.

In a time when the two major political parties are more viciously divided than they have been in years, it is only natural that the College Democrats and the College Republicans find themselves equally at odds. Much is at stake in this election, and both organizations have their work cut out for them.

It is always easy to take the low road and resort to mindless but disappointingly effective assaults on the opposing organization rather than the opposing ideas. The issues in this election are complex, and they deserve an equally complex treatment, particularly on a college campus. Recent heated exchanges between the Bowdoin Democrats and the Bowdoin Republicans?much of it on these pages?has done little but discourage discussion and antagonize its most vocal advocates.

Both sides argue that the November election is the most important in years, if not in America?s history. But the debate does not reflect this; in fact, it suggests precisely the opposite: that the issues at stake are worth squandering for the sake of personal gratification, ?gotcha? attacks, and silly diversions.

It?s time to leave these ways behind. It?s time to grow up.