Four more years
Students react to Obama’s 2nd term
Re-election divides students
Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter
Carl J. Bachus | Collegio Reporter
After months of gaffes, embarrassing quotes and straight-answer-dodging debates, the final curtain fell on the 2012 presid
ential campaign with the American public re-electing President Barack Obama. As the election year atmosphere begins to fade, PSU students weighed in on Tuesday night’s results.
“I yelled out, ‘No!’” said Samantha Gentry, undeclared freshman. “The first clue was how close the election was that evening. When they tallied the popular vote and called Ohio, I cringed.”
It seems that Gorillas are as polarized as the rest of the country when it comes to the president. Some students were lamenting four more years of the administration and others, like Darrell Chism, were relieved at the president’s re-election.
“It was really dead-even for a minute,” said Chism, sophomore in business management. “I was really nervous because it was so close. But I was happy overall.”
Chism says he and his watch party were almost certain which way the election would go, but the numbers earlier in the evening made him and his friends uneasy. Chism says his response was more emotional because he got to vote for the first time. This rang true for students on the other side, like Aaron Dean.
“I was just kind of pissed off and didn’t want anyone to talk about it,” said Dean, sophomore in biology. “It stung a little more because I voted.”
Dean says President Obama needs to work harder on improving the job market, lowering the unemployment rate and keep away from what he says is an unfair taxation on the wealthy.
“I’d be really happy if he didn’t try to take money away from high-paying jobs, like doctors,” Dean said. “They work really hard for their education and shouldn’t have their money taken away.”
Due to the divisive nature of American politics, students like Micah Black stress the importance of research and being informed when stepping into the political discussion.
“I try to make an effort to be as informed as I can,” said Black, junior in political science and French. “I think it’s important as an American to know who you’re voting for, not just as a political science major. Today’s culture is interesting and extremely polarized politically. It’s important to really know the candidates and make a concerted effort to inform yourself, since political advertising can get so heated and negative.”
Black says the new generation has the power to challenge the trademark polarization of American politics. She says young people could possibly bridge the gap between the many different ideologies that make up the country by the politicians that they don’t want to be divided as a nation.
“Perhaps it sounds cliche, but young voters truly do shape the future of the political culture,” she said. “If we can show them that we want to see cooperation across ideological lines, then that is what we will begin to see.”
What happens now?
Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter
Marcus Clem | Collegio Reporter
President Barack Obama earned another term on Nov. 6 by a sizable, if not quite landslide, margin. He received a little more than 50 percent of the popular vote and 303 electoral votes, as of Wednesday, Nov. 7 (270 were needed to win).
Now, the nation proceeds to the business of governing.
“Like a lot of Americans, I am relieved that it is over,” said Steve Scott, university president. “I think we all suffered some from campaign fatigue. The discourse and dialogue was not very positive, across the board.”
Scott says he is hopeful the intense partisanship of the election year will be set aside to confront the host of challenges facing the nation’s government. The national debt continues to climb from the current level of $16 trillion; this poses a long-term problem. Set within it is a potential short-term crisis: the sequestered provisions of the Budget Control Act of 2011.
Without action by the end of January, taxes at all income levels will go up and all sectors of government spending will be slashed by margins that will likely trigger a renewed economic recession.
“This is a serious issue that is going to take some serious problem solving,” Scott said.
With 55 Democrats in the 100-seat Senate, and 193 in the 435-seat House of Representatives, the president’s party cannot pass what is needed alone, even with the political capital gained by Tuesday’s vote.
“There was no big single impact from the election,” said Michael Giffin, sophomore in chemistry and physics. “It is the same status quo. You still have a Republican majority in the House, a Democratic majority in the Senate. Obama will still be president. He still will not pass much legislation through. The problem is taxes are about to go up and Congress is going to have a hard time doing something with a divided House.”
Some Republicans, like Aaron Heidebrecht, senior in political science, say the outcome is disappointing, and the future could be uncertain for students.
“Everything that Obama has done prior to this has just been leading up to re-election,” he said. “Now that he is in his last four years of his presidency, he can basically do everything he has been planning on that he couldn’t do before. It’s kind of up in the air as to how it is going to affect us.”
Mike Zuniga says that as a Democrat, he celebrates Obama’s re-election, but retains some worry about what the government can and will do.
“I don’t have any loans, so I’m very fortunate,” said Zuniga, senior in graphic communications management. “I would love to see what the government is going to do about the loan problem. We don’t have any specifics.”
Zuniga says the political gridlock confronting the new Congress, though a few seats changed hands it remains at relatively the same levels of representation, will make any major changes tough to come by.
“Honestly, it is hard to come up with what you want to see happening without sounding like an idealist,” Zuniga said.
Giffin says he is a Libertarian who voted for his party’s candidate, former governor of New Mexico Gary Johnson. While Johnson had no chance at victory, Giffin backed him as a protest vote against legislation like the National Defense Authorization Act of 2011, supported by both parties.
That law, among other provisions, empowers federal agencies to indefinitely detain American citizens suspected of terrorism, and Giffin says this is an unconstitutional provision that outweighs all economic concerns.
“We have trillions of dollars in debt, and it keeps going up,” he said. “No one seems to be talking about it. Unfortunately, people think that voting Libertarian is a waste of your vote, and it is not wasting your vote if it is something you believe in.”
More commonly known problems like student loan debt are something that students, families and the government need to carefully examine, he says.
“Students need to be fiscally responsible on their own and not take out quite so much loan money unless they have to. A lot of the student debt is not entirely necessary,” Giffin said. “This is not to say it is not still a problem, but students need to try to minimize it.”