A Change In People, Not Just Policy
By Mark Galarrita
Every American citizen of legal age is given the right to vote. It is the solemn right and duty of each citizen to choose who they want to lead their country and their local government.
But when you’re in college, or even in high school, those privileges are the last thing on your mind. Students feel the need to place friends, parties, and hobbies, and yes, even homework above the right to vote and other civic duties. Some students are even so used to things the way they are that they become skeptical or cynical, and feel that their voice and opinion is not worth their time and effort.
That all changed Tuesday, November 4, 2008.
The presidential election of 2008, for all of the bitter debates and the highly publicized election coverage, has shown one thing to the American people. Hope of action. I have never seen a more active group of young peers in my life. I am even more surprised by the overwhelming number of adults and elderly in New York City who were exuberant about voting this year.
I remember in 8th-grade talking to high school students who just didn’t care, or knew too little about politics. The only students who did know, or cared about government were mainly on the honor roll, and they seemed to stick their noses up at those who knew too little.
It’s different now, and I hope it stays that way. Rarely in the last decade have so many young Americans come together to make their voices heard. Whether it was for a Democrat, a Republican, or another party, many young people had opinions on the candidates. More importantly, they voiced those opinions loudly.
Jason Marrero, a 29 year-old Marymount student, said one thing the day after the election that may sum up the effect this election has had on the American people. “I can believe in hope,” Marrero says when asked what the election means to him. “I can look my daughter in the eye and tell her, you too can be president. And I wouldn’t have to have any thoughts of racism or prejudgment in my mind. She too, can believe.”
In my previous article, “Marymount Students Say They’re Planning To Vote,” I conducted a poll on the Marymount Manhattan College campus, analyzing whether students would vote, and who they would vote. The results showed that of the 167 students polled, 124 said they would vote.
The survey was conducted nearly a month before the election and showed that Marymount students were more focused on the election than I had predicted. I was surprised that a majority of people interviewed had a lot to say.
Students picked Obama for his stance on many issues such as international policy, the economy and even national health care to name a few. Even though the survey was small, I believe those are the same ethics and principals that many Americans wanted when they picked the new president.
This election was the first in which I was able to vote, and certainly will not be my last. It is my hope that we as a people do not forget the drive and energy we feel for politics this day. Americans both young and old should be informed on their local and national governments, and be able to make decisions on their own and decide what direction they want their country to take. I believe that the fervor created by the Barack Obama and John McCain campaigns instilled a drive in us to be better informed about how the government affects our lives.
With Obama as the presidential elect, the future seems clear but uncertain. Policies will change the day Obama takes office as his Democratic party also takes control of Congress.
No longer will we just be Americans, but instead united American citizens. Not since the tragedy of 9/11 have we as a nation stood together, ready for a new hope in our lives. How the first black president will do in office has yet to be determined, but his policies to guide our nation will affect us all.