Saturday, May 17, 2008

Decision 2008

Election 2008: Know Your Role
By Alejandro M. Fernandez

The 2008 presidential election has all the ingredients of a Hollywood action-thriller. This year’s blockbuster contains three main characters. Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona plays himself, the older man who represents the status quo. Though he is not the main villain, he seems to stand in the hero’s way. The hero is none other than Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois. He is young, charismatic, and handsome.

Of course, no hero would be complete without a sidekick, no male protagonist would be complete without the female gaze, and no good cop would be complete without a bad cop. Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York defies this multifaceted role, but the casting director will not budge. The director and main villain is, as usual, the media.

So why does this election matter? Why watch a remake of previous films?

Somewhere along the line, the casting director decided to improvise. For the first time a black man and a white woman share the spotlight with the usual White male suspect. Voters understand this. Young voters especially realize that their votes can affect this country’s future in Iraq, the fate of a diminished economy, and much more.

According to both Time Magazine and the Los Angeles Times, “the youth vote already has played a key role in earlier primaries. In South Carolina, 18- to 29-year-olds accounted for 14% of voters, up from 9% in 2004. And in Iowa, young voter turnout rose 135% from the previous presidential primary.”

Rita Biggers, a 22-year-old graduate student, did not vote because of scheduling conflicts. However, she has followed the media’s election coverage diligently. Biggers believes “the media’s need to constantly broadcast breaking stories, as seen through the creation of the new breed of 24-hour news stations like CNN, has caused the media to do more report now, confirm later type of journalism.”

Rita Biggers says her
main concerns are
health care,
education costs, and
foreign affairs

Maria-Leonor Castilla, a 20-year-old Ivy Leaguer, exercised her right to vote for the first time by voting for Hillary Clinton. “I see myself in Hillary—a woman who is driven, educated and passionate with clear goals and plans to execute those goals,” she says. “Besides,” she adds, “we all know that it has been the first ladies that are the pillars, inspirations, and ultimate advisors of their husbands (many of whom have served our country well), so who better than a former first lady to lead our country?”

Pablo Guevara, a 21-year-old engineering student, voted for a fellow Hispanic. “Richardson is my boy,” he says. “He’s the only politician I’ve met that gave me good vibes. Plus, I have to represent the Hispanics,” he adds.

Like moviegoers, voters connect with candidates that make them feel comfortable and safe. William P. O’Neill, a 32-year-old U.S. Air Force Public Affairs Specialist, is no different. “I feel more secure and confident regarding the safety and future of America with Senator McCain as its Commander in Chief,” he says. Adding, “I agree with Sen. John McCain’s stances on the war on terror (especially regarding Iraq and Afghanistan), economy, and immigration.”

Some, like Marcello Pacheco, 21, an architecture student, are more critical of this year’s villain. “The media’s coverage is sickening. It is completely biased for Obama and tries to trap or demonize Hillary every chance they get,” he says.

Marcello Pacheco's biggest
concerns are education and
infrastructure spending

James Darley, a 20-year-old student at Holy Cross favors the hero. “I admire the courage that it took for Obama to not vote for the war in Iraq. He risked everything, including his political career by not jumping on the bandwagon.”

Unlike previous years, the 2008 presidential election appeals to many people, if not everyone. Men and women of all ages, races, and creeds have someone to root for.

How will the blockbuster end?

No one knows for sure. The only certainty is that everyone is playing a role.

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