Every four years, presidential campaigning comes to Pennsylvania, to Philadelphia, to Temple and the student body manages to seem politically energized.
Sen. Hillary Clinton rallied in McGonigle Hall, and last week, Chelsea Clinton appeared in Mitten, as reported by The Temple News today [“Chelsea Clinton visits campus, talks foreign policy with students,” LeAnne Matlach, April 15, 2008]. It became clearer still that the national spotlight was again on Philadelphia’s political climate again when Sen. Barack Obama gave one of the most consequential speeches of our generation at the National Constitution Center, as reported by The Temple News.
In 2004, Sen. John Kerry visited both Temple and the University of Pennsylvania, as reported by The Temple News.
The Temple News ran cover stories on student demonstrations and protests, including a photo of Kim Plank and Jessica Wallen, then members of Temple College Republicans, dressed as a pair of flip flops, criticizing Kerry for changing his stance on campaign issues.
Democracy in action, with students acting as a driving force. Yet we fear now as we feared then, amid all the growth and on-campus development Temple has seen, we can’t seem to get excited about municipal and state elections. Sen. Arlen Specter was facing a challenge from Rep. Joe Hoeffel, now active in Gov. Ed Rendell’s administration, a challenge Specter overcame without many students paying attention, as reported by The Temple News.
Four years later, as Clinton and Obama get ready to do battle on April 22, students have a chance to involve themselves in a host of important local campaigns but find only the biggest fish are worth fishing for, as highlighted by a debate between Temple College Republicans and Democrats.
Set aside challenged Pennsylvania house district primaries in the Northeast’s 179th and South Philly’s 184th, the Democratic primary to fill the State Senate seat of outgoing Sen. Vince Fumo has enormous implications for the city and Mayor Michael Nutter’s administration but is also garnering statewide attention. John Dougherty, Local 98 electrician’s union business manager and Fumo political enemy, is leading in the dollar count, but he’s seeing significant pressure from lawyer Larry Farnese and political activist Anne Dicker.
Yet, that doesn’t seem to excite many Temple students like Hillary or Barack, assuring we can expect Temple to remain politically active once every four years.