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Caucus talk looked trivial at times

BETWEEN ?CLASSES

By BARBARA HAUPT AND PHILIP HOFIUS

Saturday’s Democratic caucus was our first experience with the U.S.’s shiny, streamlined political system. After fighting our way through throngs of milling voters to scribble one of two famous names on a piece of paper, we stayed to witness the rowdy and chaotic debate.

Like most teenagers, we’ve grown tired of hearing, “Oh, you won’t understand; you’re too young.”

We instinctively hail Obama for his youth.

It disturbed us, however, to hear many adult voters say a good reason to cast their vote for Obama is the fact that young people support him. A new administration would hopefully affect profound change in the lives of all Americans.

While our generation has flocked to Obama, in some cases it is for superficial reasons. As youth, we do not have special insight that is more valid than that of older folks. We would love to laud our peers for their activism and awareness, but the fact remains that a large portion of teenagers are voting for Obama’s charisma.

However, it is true many politicians have been elected on these grounds. John F. Kennedy and George W. Bush are two examples. Some have been successful, while others haven’t. As new voters, we can easily be swayed by the same superficialities that have persuaded Americans in the past.

This form of voting steers us away from educating ourselves about the real issues.

When we direct our attention to which candidate eats what at which state fair, we grow numb to the important concerns that face our country. Global warming, the occupation of Iraq, and government-funded health care all deserve far more attention. This disconnect leads many voters to apathy, something we especially see in our peers.

We’ve both recently had conversations with friends who feel so disgusted with politics they decided not to be involved at all. Their pessimism stems from the idea that any person who desires that much power must be flawed, and is further influenced by the bureaucracy inherent in the system. Although they know it is illogical to criticize a system one makes no effort to change, our friends feel they can affect no real change through that system.

The caucus is supposed to expose the less informed and unsure to the real issues and prevent gut-instinct voting.

While the debate was lively, it seemed unproductive and predictable. Clinton supporters lauded her experience, while Obama devotees praised his charm and ability to appeal to the masses.

After witnessing the sparring between the two sides, we realized the differences are so nominal that they would both be strong Democratic nominees.

Both Clinton, with her experience and attention to detail, and Obama with his vigor and insight seem equally qualified.

But even though the debate at the Democratic caucus was somewhat trivial, voters still made it clear they are invested in the future of America and are excited for whatever change may come.

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