Every Temple student has his or her own opinion about the presidential race.
Some students believe that Kerry’s interests lean toward college students and the majority of middle and working classes based on issues of the war in Iraq, healthcare and education. Others think Bush would be the better candidate because of the “No Child Left Behind” Act, his political track record and tax refunds.
Senior Sanya Daniels said Kerry’s interests are better suited for the country. “He has our best interest at heart,” Daniels said. “I think that Bush has nothing for us. I think he really brought this country nothing but problems, and overall we just need to get somebody in there to rectify the issues that he’s raised.”
Freshman and Temple Debate Team member, Austin Lamac, believes that Kerry doesn’t fit the criteria for the presidential position because of his military past.
“Morally, I can’t vote for Kerry,” Lamac said. “He’s a war criminal. Fiscally, I don’t think he has the platform.”
National security is an issue that Bush emphasized on his campaign. Chairperson and co-founder of Temple University’s College Republicans, Jessica Wallen, plans to vote for Bush. “Ever since Sept. 11, we have to be tougher on our national security, and George Bush and the Republican Party are going to keep us safe,” Wallen said. “They’re going to keep the money in the military and the defense department, and that’s what we need.”
However, Bill McGrath, a third-year student, is leaning toward voting for Kerry based on Bush’s political strategy on the war in the Middle East. “The way I see it is that most college kids believe Bush started the war for reasons that are a better politically-correct, not morally-correct [reasons],” McGrath said. He also mentioned how his friends are in Afghanistan policing, rather than protecting the county. “I have friends that are over in Afghanistan,” McGrath explained. “They’re sitting ducks over there. They’re not protected. They’re being police officers, not military personnel.”
President Bush’s stance on the military and homeland security is to fight terrorists abroad by bringing freedom to people for whom it has been too long denied, or America will face the consequence on its soil, according to his Web site www.georgebush.com. He also points out that 50 million Afghans and Iraqis were liberated, terrorist camps in Afghanistan were destroyed, and Saddam Hussein was captured.
Senator Kerry emphasizes a similar issue as Bush on fighting terrorism but has a policy of gaining new allies, improving the military, freeing America from its dependency on oil from the Middle East, and to use non-militaristic ways of fighting terrorism including diplomacy, according to his site www.johnkerry.com.
In reality, over 1,000 U.S. troops were killed in Iraq, and the risk of terrorism in America has increased since its invasion of Iraq. However, there weren’t any terrorist attacks since September 11, 2001, because half of al Qaeda’s 30 top leaders have been killed or captured.
Education has been a main concern for many students such as senior Brittany Prescott, who criticized Bush’s “No Child Left Behind” Act for low-test scores in public schools, but hopes Kerry will help college students with their tuition. While others, including Lamac, agreed with Prescott on the issue of low-test scores, but holds teachers accountable rather than the president.
“He’s the biggest hypocrite in the whole world. He does the ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act and all it does is put money into testing kids. It doesn’t put money into teaching them,” Prescott said.
At a recent political event in Mitten Hall’s Owl Cove, students like Prescott and sophomore Kayla Conklin of Temple University’s College Democrats commented about the president’s rapport with students and his stance on education.
“I think that has a lot to do with Bush’s horrible track record, especially with young people on things like education and issues that are important to them,” Conklin said.
Lamac said teachers are given the autonomy for teaching and “[high school and middle school] kids have a fourth grade reading level.” Wallen agreed, “His ‘No Child Left Behind’ Act has helped, and it’s pushing the teachers to be accountable for their work.”
President Bush has an emphasis on the “No Child Left Behind” Act that demands accountability in exchange for the record levels of federal spending for public education as well as plans to develop literacy programs like “Head Start.” Bush intends to increase minority outreach to “disseminate” effective early childhood development stages.
Kerry plans to establish a National Education Trust fund to ensure schools get the funding they need and a “School’s Open ‘Til Six” initiative offering after-school programs to children until 6 p.m. For college students, Kerry plans to offer a fully refundable College Opportunity Tax credit up to $4,000 on tuition for every year of college.
U.S. education recently received a low grade on the American Legislative Exchange Council’s (ALEC) report card. The report said the same trend of increased spending without corresponding improvement in student performance has been presented that has occurred in past reports.
Students may not agree on the same candidate, but they all agree participation in the upcoming election is crucial.
“I think a lot more people should participate in it,” McGrath said. “After what happened in the 2000 Florida recount, it shows that every vote for the most part does count regardless of where you’re voting from. So I would hope that everyone would get out there regardless of who they vote for and just vote.”
“It’s [participation] going to be more than it was before,” explained senior and Temple College Republican, Jon Vigile. “There’s going to be more people voting, but I think there may be people voting for anybody but Bush. I don’t think that people are voting on ideology, they’re just voting on ‘I just hate this guy, so I’m going to vote against him.”
Alan Gung can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.