College a vital forum for election issues
Take it from me: As a recent alum, I can tell you that after you leave college, a completely different set of social and political issues becomes important to you.Financial security, which during college years may have been somewhere below Diet Coke on the scale of things important to you, suddenly becomes an issue in everything you do. Especially in this age of "nothing is cheap like it used to be," I find that I am constantly tuned in to the state of the economy. The entire nation appears to sympathize with me. That's why it's up to you, today's college students, to keep the nation focused on the war in Iraq during this election season.
At the beginning of the party primaries, the number one issue in the country was the war in Iraq. The presidential candidates had to make strong statements about their positions on the conflict and plans for the future of our military involvement in the Middle East. Senator Hillary Clinton's and Sen Barack Obama's political histories regarding the war were supposed to have been a major component of any Democratic voter's decision at the polls.
Now, though, the entire focus of the presidential race is on the economy. It's hard to blame the candidates for the shift: The citizens of this country have become transfixed nightly by network news stories about gas mileage and coupon-clipping, and want to know what our candidates plan to do to avert recession. We seem to have more or less forgotten that over 100,000 of our fellow Americans are abroad, in a war zone. Americans and Iraqis are dying every week. It is true that America cannot be successful abroad if the economy at home is not taken care of, but shouldn't we give more of our time and attention to those suffering every day for the cause of this war?
It shouldn't matter what party or ideology you are aligned with. Whether you agree or disagree with the war in Iraq, the conflict should be the major issue in the 2008 presidential race. We have hundreds of billions of dollars and hundreds of thousands of lives tied up in the Middle East. America's reputation and the security of the United States and Europe are on the line. This issue cannot be put aside while we deal with things like the price of peanut butter. But pricey peanut butter is always going to be an issue for folks who have to feed themselves with a paycheck. Many college students, however, are in the unique position of being sheltered from rising prices and recession. Other things can get you stirred up, like deforestation, human rights violations and a war.
You're so lucky to be in college. You may not realize the full extent of the blessing until after you graduate, but you are. Use that gift to make the issues important to you heard during this election season. I bring up the war because it is important to me, but you can address any issue you want. Know that you have a different perspective on the issues than the majority of this country. You may sometimes be ignorant or idealistic, but that doesn't matter. Your voice is unique, and that does matter.
Ian Ragsdale graduated from Hanszen College in 2008.
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