Sunday, July 22, 2007

Election 2008: Do your homework

As a politics major in college and someone that has been interested in the topic since childhood I tend to become easily frustrated when people talk about politics.

My frustration doesn’t come with disagreeing about candidates or matters of opinion. My frustration lies with the very few facts the American people, specifically college students, seem to know.

There is currently a huge wave of young (18-25) support for Obama. Yet, I have not met too many people that actually know what he stands for. It seems to me that his overwhelming success with young people is largely because he is young himself. I’m sure some may be thinking, well, he is a good candidate so what’s the big deal? The big deal is that if we make our decisions based on who is the better looking, younger or most friendly, we are not using the critical thinking that we should have learned during our entire school careers.

I hear more people loving Obama and talking about his liberal agenda and then turning around and saying sexist comments about Hillary Clinton. One girl went as far to tell me this: “It’s obvious that the only reason Hillary Clinton is running is so Bill Clinton can have another turn in the White House.” Excuse me. I sat stunned on that one. Clinton may not be a favorite among college youth but I think Obama would agree that Clinton is not in this for her husband. And who are we to degrade our first front-runner female candidate by assuming that she has no will of her own. That she is simply a puppet of her husband. Hillary Clinton was one of the most outspoken and strong first ladies this country has ever seen—reminiscent of Eleanor Roosevelt. She led the nation in creating a comprehensive universal health care bill which was only thwarted because of the millions of dollars given to congressmen from the health care industry and the intense hatred of the Clinton administration by the Republicans. (Come on, she may have sounded a little crazy when she called it the “vast right wing conspiracy” but think about it, do some research on what the republicans did during the Clinton years. It’s not pretty).

It seems to me that while we are embracing our multi-cultural and progressive candidate we are forgetting to do our research on the other candidates. A lot can change in six months and by only focusing on one candidate we are missing out on the great potential we have with such a diverse group of candidates (well, democratic candidates, anyway). There are so many candidates with good points that I find myself supporting almost all of them in some way. (Clinton and Obama lead the pack for me, but Biden has been impressive too).

During the New Hampshire primary debates in June Obama and Clinton standing side by side took numerous blows from the other candidates. And each time, they stood up for each other. They have recognized that as front runners and non-white males they have to stick together. They may be vying for the same vote but they are not trash talking each other either. Maybe we should take a page from their book.

I would like to hear college students give a fair assessment to each candidate. Read the newspaper, watch the debates, follow the campaign trail and stop saying sexist shit about Hillary Clinton! You may not like her that much but recognize what a huge step this is for women in general and think about what your words about Hillary Clinton convey to other women and to young children. If you’re saying that a white woman can’t do it because she’s a woman, then what are you saying to all of the women of color out there? What are you saying to your sons and daughters?

One of my 5th grade girls asked me if women can be President. I told her yes, there just hasn’t been one yet. I told her about Hillary Clinton. She said, “I want to be President.” I smiled and told her that sounded like a great idea. And then I whispered to her “Do you know who else wants to be President?” She shook her head. “Me.” She smiled like I had never seen before and walked out to recess with her head held high. So look out for a Mexican woman named Alycia thirty five years from now.

This is a pivotal time in our country’s history, regardless of the outcome. PAY ATTENTION.


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