Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Decision 2008

Will Sarah Palin Lure More Young People To The Voting Booth?
By Kasey Ryan

I never cared about politics. There, I said it. I know it sounds horrible and is a cliché that a young woman can’t be bothered to participate in what determines the future of our country. I guess I had faith in others to make the right decision. Or maybe I was just lazy. I just didn’t have much of an interest. This all changed once Sarah Palin came into the picture.

As soon as I began to see her face all over Star Magazine, and US Weekly, which are known as magazines with celebrity gossip, I knew this was a woman I would start to become familiar with. She is the epitome of controversy, whether it has to do with her pregnant teen daughter or her adorable Down-Syndrome baby, she was one of the first things that piqued my interest in politics since the Bill Clinton White House intern fiasco. Maybe I just like a good scandal. Or maybe, although not the brightest bulb of the bunch, Sarah Palin would draw the interest of young people all over the world, people just like me, who previously had no interest in politics, therefore no interest in voting.

That leads me to the question I have been researching thoroughly, which is this: is the controversy surrounding Sarah Palin helping more young take an interest in politics and therefore influencing them to vote? Whether it is influencing them to vote because they can relate to her and see her as human like everybody else, someone who has made past mistakes, or because they literally quiver at even the thought of a woman who compares women to pit bulls having say in how our country operates. It doesn’t matter.

Lisa Lutz, 20, an education major at Hunter College, was like me, never really interested in politics. She was more into fashion and what celebrity was divorcing who rather than taking an interest in the presidential election, which affects young people just as much, if not more, as the future of this country.

“I just never really found any of the candidates or anyone involved that interesting, but then, I feel like Sarah Palin was all over the place, in the celebrity gossip magazines, which usually stay away from things like politics, and it was hard to ignore,” said Lutz. Trey Panker, 19, also a Hunter College student agreed, “She’s just such a hot mess. You can’t not know about her. She’s everywhere.”

But was her overwhelming presence on gossip magazines and talk shows to discuss her interesting home life and the drama that surrounded her family enough to make these young people interested enough to vote?

“I will admit that I wasn’t even registered to vote until recently, when Hunter made it possible to sign up and register in the hallway between classes,” Panker said. He also says he had the same opportunity at Hunter last year, but ignored it. “Last year, I just didn’t want to waste my time. But now I know that I have to do anything I can to make sure Obama wins, just so Palin will stay as far away as possible from running our country.”

Lutz is also going to vote this year, but not with the same purpose as Panker. “I actually am rooting for her. I like the idea of a woman having some say of what happens. Also, I am a strong believer that mistakes and conflicts only make us stronger, and I think she is a really good example of that. She’s only human, just like the rest of us and she‘s handled every situation thrown at her with such class.”

So will Lutz vote this year and would she have gone out of her way to vote if she hadn’t seen so much of Sarah Palin, due to the controversies surrounding her? “Probably not,” she admits, “I probably wouldn’t have taken such a keen interest and been determined to vote had the controversy surrounding her been possible to ignore and had it not made me want to learn more about who she is and who she’s up against and what they believe in.”

The U.S. Board of Elections says 29 million people 18-24 will be eligible to vote this year and that, young voters could determine the outcome of this election. Lutz and Panker may be those young voters. They became interested in politics due to the controversy surrounding Sarah Palin. The truth is it doesn’t matter what leads young people to vote, as long as they are voting. If gossip magazines are paying attention to political candidates and helping to turn them into celebrities, and politicians being parodied on TV is drawing the interest of young people to politics, then good for them.