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Student perspective: the presidential campaign

February 14, 2008

Student perspective: The 2008 presidential campaign

With the 2008 election season in full swing, Campus Voice asked two students – a Democrat and a Republican – to share with us their thoughts and impressions on the recent flurry of activity in Washington state. Both attended their respective caucuses.

Junior Geoff Smock, a history major and president of the PLU GOP club:

On Feb. 9, I attended the Washington State 28th Legislative District Republican Caucus.

Four years ago I was at the same caucus, but at still only 17 years of age, was unable to participate. I remember wistfully observing my fellow Republicans making their own individual contributions to American democracy, and I could not wait until the time came when I’d get the same opportunity.

Saturday was that opportunity. At the caucus, each precinct within the district had its own table. Within these precinct groups, we signed in, listed our preference of one of the Republican presidential candidates, filled out surveys on current issues of importance in Washington state and discussed general political issues amongst ourselves.

Most importantly, we elected delegates to the Pierce County Republican Convention on April 12, which will then select delegates to represent Pierce County in the Washington State Republican Convention later this spring. My precinct has four delegates to send to the county convention, and I was extremely excited to be elected as one of them.

Beyond anything that happened at the caucus, I was happy to just be there and to be able to participate. As I left, I was extremely cognizant of how truly fortunate I am personally, and Americans are in general, to have this right. I am profoundly grateful to those brave and selfless Americans who have fought and died and continue to fight and die to secure this right.

Senior Tamara Power-Drutis, political science major and ASPLU vice president:

Upon returning from abroad last week, I was thrilled to find my country knee deep in debates over who our next president would be.

“Yes, We Can!” sang from YouTube videos across campus and candidates planned visits to the region. With the Washington state caucus only one day away, three fellow seniors and myself, all undecided, set out early on the morning of Feb. 8 to volunteer and hear Sen. Hillary Clinton speak about healthcare at the University of Puget Sound.

Within moments of entering the field house, we were gobbled up for volunteer tasks: checking-in and directing media, monitoring crowd lines and occasionally fielding questions. As the doors opened, I was surprised to see, after hours of waiting in the wind and rain, smiling, cheering Clinton supporters and thousands of waving signs. This same support wasn’t apparent at the next day’s 27th District Caucus in Tacoma’s Stanley Elementary School.

Caucus organizers, unprepared for the enormous turnout, hurriedly copied additional sign-in sheets, pleaded with the crowd to snap instead of clap and to please stop cheering after every comment so the speaker could be heard. Once we split into precincts, we collected an initial vote count. Of 146 residents, 113 voted Obama. As some spoke in support of their candidate, hoping to sway others to their side, I remained un-swayed, remained undecided.

To admit myself as an “uncommitted” voter is a difficult confession. I was the recently turned 18-year-old who rushed to the 2004 caucus with candidate propaganda strapped, pinned and stuck on my clothes, backpack and bumper. Conversely, at Saturday’s caucus I was one of nine in my precinct huddled in a corner of the overcrowded cafeteria discussing our inability to choose. There were enough of us undecided voters to warrant a delegate – I was selected the alternate delegate to the 46th Legislative District Caucus and county convention in April.

For me, it is no longer a question of picking the lesser of two evils; I am asked by my country to choose between the greater of two goods.