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South students enter 2008 political scene

Posted By Denebola On September 24, 2008 @ 9:51 pm In Features | Comments Disabled

By Tessa Ruben

People often assume Newton is a town chock-full of wealthy white Jewish liberals. And they would be right, to a large extent. The bubble-like political climate in Newton makes it tough to imagine that there are other places in America where McCain signs are staked into every other lawn, and where Sarah Palin is not a joke.

It turns out, however, that Newton, and especially Newton South, is a lot more of an ideologically diverse place than one would think. Students hold a range of political views and while many are involved in Senator Barack Obama’s campaign, some are supporting Senator John McCain’s.

Junior Mika Braginsky is going to volunteer for the McCain campaign by making phone calls to registered voters with the “BC for McCain group at Boston College. The group holds three hour phone-call sessions known as “phonebanks to gather critical information about voter leanings and try to convince undecided voters to support for McCain.

Braginsky said she plans to volunteer from McCain because she feels the need to get involved.

“I want to actually do something to help beyond just supporting [McCain], she said. “Usually people donate money, but I don’t have too much to give.

Braginsky largely supports McCain because of his stances on national security and foreign policy. She argues that while “economic reforms and other domestic reforms are great, there won’t be any point in these improvements if we can’t protect ourselves. John McCain understands how to achieve victory in Iraq and how to confront the threat of terrorism worldwide.

Braginsky is also excited about Republican Vice-Presidential candidate Sarah Palin, who she described as a “great woman.

Opposition to Obama’s candidacy also drives Braginsky to campaign for McCain. She is skeptical of Obama’s policy plans and is bothered by what she calls “his misrepresentation of the tax cuts.

Braginsky described how her political views have been formed by living in a liberal city like Newton surrounded by liberal peers and teachers.

“My stance has mostly been formed by an inherent doubt–when I hear most people around me pushing one idea, I immediately feel the need to criticize it. Then I research the alternatives, and often they just make more sense, she said.

Braginsky founded the Conservative Student Union last year in an effort to create a more diverse dialogue at South about political issues. Every Monday J-Block, a group of students meets in the 1300s to discuss the 2008 race, issues of concern to them, and conservatism in general.

One person who probably will not be showing up to a Conservative Student Union meeting anytime soon is Senior Bill Humphrey, an avid Obama supporter.

“I feel strongly on pretty much every issue in this campaign, and I feel strongly that the Bush-McCain Republicans are wrong on all of them, he said.

As for McCain’s choice of Palin as his Vice-Presidential running mate, “[Principal Brian] Salzer is far more qualified to be chosen than Sarah Palin is, he said. “I say go for it, Mr. Salzer!

Humphrey is very excited about the prospect of Obama becoming president. He has traveled up to New Hampshire, a critical swing state, with other Newton Democrats to campaign door-to-door in the hopes of convincing undecided voters.

Like phonebanking, going door-to-door, known as “canvassing, allows campaigns to identify supporters and undecided voters. It is a lot easier to convince people in a face-to-face conversation than over the phone. But it is also very time and energy consuming, as Humphrey found out after spending all Saturday walking around the suburbs of Manchester, New Hampshire trying to convince people to support Obama.

While in Manchester, Humphrey spoke to many voters who classified themselves as “undecided despite having real concerns about the direction of the country and the economy. To convince them to vote for Obama, Humphrey spelled out Obama’s plan for middle-class tax cuts.

“People are tired of the last eight years, he said.

Humphrey recounted a meeting with a woman who had supported Hillary Clinton in the New Hampshire primaries, but was thinking about supporting John McCain because Obama defeated Hillary in the primaries.

“I persuaded her to give Senator Obama another look because of the gap between [Obama's position on healthcare] and McCain’s. I could tell that she wanted badly to vote for a Democrat, but she’d been so committed to Hillary Clinton¦ I kept reminding her that Hillary Clinton wanted Barack Obama to be the next President because John McCain would be unacceptable.

Whichever candidate, if any, you support, it’s worth taking a page out of Braginsky or Humphrey’s books by making sure your guy is the one smiling through the swirls of red, white, and blue confetti come November 4.

If neither McCain’s nor Obama’s political agendas excite you, get your issues heard. Living in such a liberal community can make us politically lazy. Either we figure marching around with a “VOTE OBAMA sign will have no effect on Massachusetts’ predetermined Democratic vote, or we fear that we can make no difference when up against such a large majority.

But Braginsky and Humphrey are getting out there and doing something. After all, it’s us who, four to eight years from now, will either be living it up, or half submerged with the rest of the Eastern coast under the water of the melted polar ice caps. Maybe it’s time we get out there and do something about it.

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URL to article: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/09/24/south-students-enter-2008-political-scene/

URLs in this post:

[1] Election 2008: South students voice their opinions: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/election-2008-south-students-voice-their-opinions/

[2] Political clubs respond to the election: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/political-clubs-respond-to-the-election/

[3] Barack in Boston: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2007/11/21/barack-in-boston/

[4] US-Russian tensions mix opinions: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2008/10/29/us-russian-tensions-mix-opinions/

[5] South responds to Obama: http://www.denebolaonline.net/2009/02/11/south-responds-to-obama/

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