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Students Want Next U.S. President to Reassert Leadership

Students Want Next U.S. President to Reassert Leadership

Posted April. 25, 2008 06:27,   


One of the talking points of the 2008 U.S. presidential election is the unprecedented young voters’ participation in politics. This is what has propelled the momentum of Democratic candidate Sen. Barack Obama. An estimated 44 million young people aged 18 to 29, who account for 21 percent of the total eligible voters, are now showing their active interest in politics in the run-up to the presidential election.

Election experts expect that voter turnout of this age bracket will reach an all-time high of 60 percent this time, though it has increased in the previous elections: 40 percent in 2000 and 49 percent in 2004.

On April 22 when the Democratic Party’s primaries were held in Pennsylvania, the Dong-A Ilbo interviewed four heads of College Democrats and Republicans at a hotel in Philadelphia and listen to their options on the U.S. presidential election and college students’ participation in politics.

○ The Reason I Support Her or Him

Lauren Burdette, head of College Democrats at the University of Pennsylvania, said she supports Sen. Barack Obama because he is not only a messenger of hope and change but also the one equipped with sound judgment.

Some 72 percent of the students at the University of Pennsylvania are in support of Obama and they believe Obama is the only candidate who can fundamentally change policies the Bush administration has pursed for the past eight years, she said.

Anna Walker, president of Temple College Democrats, said that she supports Sen. Hillary Clinton because Clinton is well aware of the ailment the United States is now suffering from, and that she believes the New York senator will represent minorities and the underprivileged who have been unable to make their voiced heard so far.

Zac Byer, who leads College Republicans at the University of Pennsylvania, and Ivan Skakun, Drexel University College Republicans chairman, have also elucidated why they are supportive of Sen. John McCain.

“If national security is not guaranteed, there is no point in achieving universal health insurance and educational reform. McCain is the right candidate who is able to bring about bipartisan reform and unite the United States,” said Byer.

Skakun also presented his reason for rooting for McCain, saying, “McCain is a living example of how the young should lead their lives.”

○ The Reason I Oppose Her or Him

The two heads on the Republican side view Sen. Barack Obama, the current leading candidate of the Democratic Party, as the one who lacks contents.

“It’s shameful that even Obama supporters couldn’t give an answer when asked what Obama has done to bring change and hope to the nation,” said Byer.

Skakun also echoed Byer’s opinion by saying that Obama’s pledges are filled with rhetoric and without contents.

On this, Burdette retorted, “As his nickname “Maverick” indicates, McCain has continuously flip-flopped. That will cause voters to feel insecure.” She also added that Hillary is just one of the established politicians.

○ Will College Students Keep Their Interest in Politics?

They all agreed that young voters’ active participation in politics, which now energizes U.S. politics, will continue for the time being.

Walker said, “Though U.S. college students raised their voices for participation in politics in 2000 and 2004, they stopped short of casting their ballots in elections. Now, we are determined not to make this same mistake.”

Saying he has closely watched changes in Korean politics, Byer remarked, “I am well aware of Korean college students’ participation in politics that triggered democratic movements in the 1980s. I believe our desire to raise our voices in politics will last.”

Skakun, who hailed from Ukraine, said that how the United States is perceived overseas is one of the main concerns of the young generation and added, “We need a leader who can legitimately assert American leadership, which has been lost for the past eight years.”