Thursday, December 11, 2008

Small town Politics

By Mary Garvin
School paper, Lions Roar

The seventh period art class is in an uproar.

“Obama for president? Are you kidding me! He’s the Antichrist!” shouts sophomore Ryan Campbell, sending the entire room into a raging presidential debate.

In the middle of a war, a “troubled” economy, and energy crisis, the 2008 presidential election has proven itself very important to the American people. Not just the eighteen-year-old voting seniors, but even the seventh period art class of mostly sophomore and junior students.

“No, I don't want Obama for president. I just agree with him on pulling out of Iraq,” said sophomore T.J. Cooley. “The only reason we’re having a war is because we’re in Iraq’s business when they don’t want us to be. If we get out of their business, they’ll get out of ours.”

Sophomore J.J. Garcia has been sitting in his desk propped up against the wall with his hands folded in his lap, listening to the group of students around him debating politics. At this comment, he jumps in.

“Pulling out of Iraq ain’t the answer,” said Garcia. “If we pull out of Iraq now, we basically surrender, and then Al Qaeda’s gonna come and kick our butt. We need to finish what we started and Mc Cain would get it done.”

Upon graduation from the United States Naval Academy, McCain served in the Vietnam war as an aviator. While serving, he was captured and held as a prisoner of war for years, often enduring torture. His naval honors include the Silver Star, Legion of Merit, and the Purple Heart.

“McCain’s military record is impressing because it shows that he will go to any length to serve our country,” said student body president Amanda Vinson, a senior. “He endured torture for his country. That’s the kind of man I want for president.”

After retiring from the Navy, McCain was elected to the House of Representatives and later into the Senate. Mc Cain professes to be a Christian and says he believes in serving someone greater then himself- his country.

If elected president, McCain says he would strive for independence from foreign oil, make health care more accessible, boost economic growth by lowering taxes and ending welfare. And while he will not pull out of war in Iraq immediately, he will seek to end it in victory.

“The way I see it is I can go with the guy who has a military record, experience in the Senate and House of Representatives, or the guy who barely has any experience,” said Vinson. “Obama has little experience with our country, but yet he wants to run it?”

Barack Obama, the Democratic presidential nominee, graduated from Columbia University in 1983, and also professes to being a Christian. After taking time off from school to work as a community organizer and volunteering with local Christian churches, also graduated from Harvard in 1991 with a law degree. There, he was the first African American to serve as president of the Harvard Law Review. In 2004, he was elected as the fourth African American in history to serve in the U.S. Senate.

As president, Obama states he plans to end the war in Iraq and raise taxes to support America. Obama is a Christian and promotes “change” with stances like seeking partial independence from foreign oil by supporting hybrid car manufactures and other renewable sources for energy as well as promising health insurance to every American.

“I’m for Obama because he is for bettering the population and making hybrid cars and clean energy,” said junior Samantha Lucas. “I like that Obama is for community and helping people.”

Lucas is one of the only 16 of 140 students polled who said they would vote for Obama, and only five people said that they considered themselves Democratic.

“I just think its creepy that his middle name is Hussein,” said senior Bruce Holson.
“He’s a great speaker and all, but I wouldn’t vote for him.”

Obama has made strong attempts to contradict the media’s “attacks” on his religion and patriotism. Yet more trendy magazines like People and Ok! and internet rumors claiming “Obama as the Antichrist,” still seem to have more of an effect on student’s political views than the mainstream media, or even the candidate’s themselves.

“When I hear Obama speak, I think he sounds great and reasonable,” said Holson. “but I can’t get past how people say he really is a Muslim and won’t pledge to the flag. He seems different every where he goes.”

Another “first” for the American people was when Democratic Hillary Clinton became the first woman to run for president. But when Obama won the nomination and Clinton was out of the race, some might have thought that the woman’s chance of being elected into office in the election of 2008 was over. But then came Governor Sarah Palin, McCain’s nomination as his vice president.

“I think all the people who were going to vote democratic just to have Hilary as the first woman president are now going to vote for Mc Cain to have a woman as Vice President,” said senior Shelby LaBonte. “She’s a really good speaker and is not afraid to speak her mind. It was a good move.”

Palin portrays herself as an “average Hockey Mom from Alaska,” who started out on the PTA before being elected to the Wasilla City Council. Shortly after, she became Mayor of Wasilla. She also served as the Ethics Commissioner and Chairman of Alaskan Oil and Gas Conservation Commission and as Governor of Alaska.

“Palin seems like she could do anything,” said Vinson. “I like that women are running now, especially her.”

Of female students polled, 58% saw a woman running for president as liberating, while 42% felt that presidency is only for men. Many students commented that they were fine with having a woman as president as long as it was not Clinton.

“I think Hillary is crazy. I feel like she was running just to be the first female president, not because she wanted to serve America,” said senior Suzette Viertel. “I’m fine with a woman president, as long as she is treated like the president, not a woman, and it’s not Hilary.”

But Holson, along with 48% of the male students polled, believe that women, Clinton or not, should not be president under any circumstance.
“A woman should not be president, ever,” said Holson. “I just don’t think a woman is suited for wars and terrorism.”

No matter who wins the election, the outcome will result in either the first black president or the first female vice president.

Eighteen year old seniors like Courtney Wheeler will be voting on November 4. Voters must be registered by Monday October 6. Voting machines will be open from 7:00 a.m. to 7:00 p.m. at the courthouse. Early voting is open from October 20 to October 31 at the courthouse.

“This election matters very much to me, even if I can’t vote,” said Viertel. “I know that the next president will determine how I live during college, and after that as well. Voting is a privilege. It’s a say in how our country will be run. If you don’t vote when you have the opportunity, you don’t have a voice.”

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