By Jago Kosolosky
January 21 saw the inauguration of Barack Obama. For #4moreyears Barack Hussein Obama II will lead the United States of America.
This made World News Today wonder: What do American youngsters have to say about the campaign and their president? College students from all over the country, that studied in the political capital of the World for one semester through The Washington Center, had this to say:
For many of them, 2012 was the first presidential election in which they had the opportunity to vote. Ariana from West Springfield, Massachusetts admits that she enjoyed the campaign: “I thought it was exciting to be part of the whole process and to see how both candidates competed for my vote.” Rachel, an intern working in DC from Akron, Ohio sees a much grimmer scene in retrospect: “It brings out the worst in people. Even though I am happy we live in a democratic country, it’s sad how many people seem more loyal to their party than to the people who matter most in their lives.”
Denise, a 21 year old student from Hadley, Massachusetts has something to say about the infamous television commercials: “I hate all the obnoxious commercials on TV, and especially the ignorant debates on channels like Fox news.” Jacob from Danville, California adds: “The American media has turned politics into a game. It turns many people, like myself, off from politics.” However, this game pleases Kevin from Tuckerton, New Jersey a great deal: “Campaigning is like playing chess; the player with the best strategy wins. It’s intriguing to see how people evaluate candidates after every move.”
The electoral college has been a controversy for a very long time now. The American president is not elected directly but he is appointed by the members of the college who are elected by the inhabitants of their state. Jacob criticizes the existence of the college: “There isn’t a single reason why this extra layer of complexity should be brought into our democratic system.” Brigid from Blackstone, Massachusetts adds: “Certain states have a lot more power than others and the campaigns focus on their interests.” Dave, from Parma, Ohio, agrees: “It creates apathy and reduces the candidates’ campaign efforts to only a small number of states.”
Despite all the criticism, young people are convinced of the importance of their vote. Lauren, a 22 year old volunteer with the Peace Corps, and Rachel consider it their duty as an American citizen. However, not all Americans seem to be as conscientious and on average only about half of the country casts a presidential vote. “I wish people felt more empowered and took more charge in their governance,” Brigid concludes hopefully.
Happy with Obama?
For his previous term, the students give Obama a passing grade. “The President did a lot of great things for our nation, especially for the younger Americans,” Ariana tells us. Denise has hope for his second term as well: “His second term will be better than his first because he won’t have to worry about getting re-elected.” This is true as a United States president can only get re-elected once. Kevin hopes that Obama will make use of that to go down a different road: “During the last term Obama erroneously gave his re-election precedence over the future of the American public.”
Melissa, from New Market, Maryland consciously takes a step back: “To my experience, people who are happy with his re-election see Obama as a God while others look at him as the personification of evil. The truth is he is neither, he is simply a president serving his term.”
Asked what the President’s top priority for the next term should be, most youngsters reply that economy should come first. Brigid, however, thinks that the time has come to increase the attention that is given to the environment. She would gladly welcome a third party arising: “I would love for such a party to focus on development, the environment and political and civil rights.” Denise: “The party system is so outdated that is has turned into a disgrace. Everyone should get the chance to run for president. A race between two candidates maybe proved its point back when it was hard for people to inform themselves but television and the internet should make a change possible. Look, I don’t know what a third party should look like, but I do know that it would be better than just having two. Diversity should come first, hell we should have eight parties!” Although Jacob agrees, he has to add that this would not be feasible in the current American political system.