Students React to 2008 election



Timothy Fleming

On a historic night for America, many Villanova students had a vested interest in the final presidential election results, spending the weeks and months leading up to Nov. 4 registering voters, knocking on doors, and making phone calls for their candidates. The youth vote was crucial in making Barack Obama our nation’s first black president, as 75 percent of voters age 18-29 voted for Obama. Villanova students put to rest its recent reputation for political apathy, becoming actively involved in the election. “The numbers were solid,” said Charles Myers, the president of Villanova’s College Democrats, who said he believes the youth vote was a significant factor in swing states. More important, he said, was the tremendous effort by people in the college age group who volunteered for the campaigns. Villanova College Democrats, as well as College Republicans and the now-dissolved Villanovans for Obama, had vote drives in the weeks leading up to the election. On the day of the election, the Student Government Association ran shuttles to polling stations. The majority of Villanova students seemed to indicate that they voted for the pro-choice Democratic candidate, despite the Catholic stance against abortion. The reason for this, according to Amanda Hogan, one of the co-presidents for Villanovans for Obama, is that Obama “stands for many of the tenets which are consistent with Catholic faith,” including his views on war and social justice. However, some students, like freshman John Wachowitz, found his pro-choice views, such as his apparent support for partial-birth abortion, unacceptable. While students may disagree on some issues, members of the College Democrats and Republicans agree on which issues determined the election. Kevin Bloomfield, of the College Republicans, said “[Obama] to some degree succeeded at tying McCain to President Bush.” Both groups agree that the choice of Sarah Palin hurt McCain. “Voters clearly lost confidence and excitement [in the choice],” Bloomsfield said. Bloomfield noted that most Americans tend to “vote their pocketbooks,” and many saw Obama as more able to help the nation through the current economic crisis.Myers also believes that students voted for Obama based on the state of the economy, saying, “We care about jobs; we all have student loans to pay.” Bloomfield also believes that Obama was able to connect with younger voters. “We’re taken in by Obama’s vision,” Bloomsfield said. Bloomfield believes that Obama’s vision of America is one of a county free from racial and partisan dividers. Myers said he believed Obama ran a 21st-century campaign, calling him “one of the most forward-thinking politicians in regards to technology.” Few could dispute Obama came across as the candidate of change and of the young demographic.When the results came in, the campus celebrated like so many places throughout the country. Sophomore Elizabeth Dias, who was strongly behind Obama, said, “You could hear the shouts from the Quad.” While at least one student took his or her celebration too far, lighting a trashcan on fire on South Campus, most Obama supporters had more restrained celebrations, including Charlie Yon, who played “We are the Champions.” While people were thrilled, others displayed extreme disappointment with the results. The next day, signs in Bartley Hall advised students to “hide their change from the new president,” an exaggerated expression of the concern that Obama’s efforts to “spread the wealth around” will punish their hard work. However, other students said they look to Obama’s policies as a way to restore America’s promise in hard economic times. On the wider level, if Obama fulfills his promise to offer $4,000 tax credits to students doing 100 hours of community service, Villanova’s already stellar record of volunteerism will be even greater. Myers said he looks forward to working with his Republican Counterparts on some non-ideological service activities. Overall, students seemed to be willing to move past ideological differences in the wake of the election, mirroring the sentiment Obama expressed in his acceptance speech: “We have never been a collection of red states and blue states. We are, and always will be, the United States of America.”