"Why are you crying?" the mother asked her child who had come of voting age. It was Election Day.

"I can't decide!"

"Why can't you decide?"

"I don't know who to vote for today for president of the United States.

What? But you graduated with honors from all your courses on how to vote for president," exclaimed the mother, dumbfounded.

"Biology taught you vacant stares are a symptom of emptyheadedness; history, that if they used the word 'arms' they liked war, and if they did not, they favored the country going down the drain like the Roman Empire. In political science you learned to sight callouses on their hands for hidden streaks of communism; the fashion class showed you how to judge their clothes so you wouldn't vote for a superficial gadabout.

"You have been drilled constantly in math so in their speeches they can't floor you with numbers. All these things you have learned. So why are you crying?"

"Yes, that is true, but now it's all useless to me," said the child forlonly "I can hardly tell the differerence between them anymore. And worse, their speeches sound alike, too. And they are using idential words. When I listen to one it is the same as listening to the other. I have decided not to vote."

Suddenly the father burst in the door. "Did you hear that the candidates look alike? No one can tell the difference anymore.No one is voting."

The mother stared at the father, then ran over to the TV and turned it on.

". . . I repeat, in case you've just turned your TV sets on," said the announcer, "that since the candidates have now become identical, no one is voting. Booths are emtpy everywhere. Free meals and movies have been set up at all polls to tempt the public and businesses have close early to encourage the working people to go."

The announcer wiped his brow: "Folks, there are a lot of people at the polls, but they're going to the movies and eating."

"Well, since I'm not going to vote, I want to go the movies," said the child. "Let's go to the polls."

"Since I can't decide on who to vote for either, I agree," echoed the mother. "Anyway, I don't feel like fixing dinner."

At their neighborhood polls the family saw all their friends eating dinner, waiting for the next film to start. Everybody shook their heads in dismay as they watched the giant TV in front of the room constantly flashing pictures of empty booths all over the country.

One friend said, "All these years of voting experience that I could put to use in deciding -- and now they look alike. If I can't decide, then who can?"

Said an intellectual friend of the child's, "I don't care if they look alike. It's the identical words that put me off. And how can I vote for either one if even their voices sound the same?" o

Said the father's friend, "I like a man in a good business suit. Those of the candidates are rumpled, and identically so. That holds my vote back."

A friend of the mother's: "Looking equally tired as they do, neither one will find the strength to continue liberating us."

Suddenly the room was quiet, the announcer came on TV. "Folks, the polls are closing in just five minutes and I'm told that at one of them in this country someone has entered a voting booth."

On the screen flashed a voting booth and clearly someone was inside. Reporters and TV cameras surrounded the booth waiting for the person to exit. There was silence all over the country as everyone watched. At last the curtain parted with a decided whir from the automatic curtain rod.

"Who are you?" someone asked. "Yes, who are you?" everyone repeated, because its coat collar was turned up and it was wearing a wide brimmed hat.

"I am the Deciding Vote. I have just decided for all of you."