Why The Election Actually Mattered

More by Maeve Tierney - 11/12

 

After a particularly bitter campaign, we are able to say that the 44th President of the United States, Mr. Barrack Obama, has been re-elected for a second term. Many students at Darien High School are relieved that the campaign is simply over; the negative ads constantly playing on TV were starting to get old.

But what really happened during the past few months? A lot of DHS students were very aware of the issues that were being debated, the topics often came up in our classes. Some students were even active in the campaigns. But there are many students who were detached from the issues, either uninterested or frightened by the intensity and dishonesty that American politics tends to emanate.

After going through this hardship that we call election season, it’s important that we understand the issues that were debated. The issues discussed during this Presidential election are extremely important to our generation. The economy, job creation, student loans, women’s rights, health care, energy and climate change were key issues and some would say that they decided the ultimate outcome.

As we all get older, real world issues increasingly affect our lives. You may be applying for your first real job soon, filing your taxes for the first time, getting a license, and talking about paying for college. As your life gets more and more complicated, you will become interested in changes in the system. These changes are proposed and implemented by our political leaders, therefore what they have to say actually does matter.

No matter how shady or scary these guys seem, being informed is a part of the democratic system and makes you a good American citizen. It may seem hard to find information on politicians positions, but fortunately their actual websites are very useful in breaking everything down. Whatever a candidate may say before the election, the proposed legislation on their campaign websites lay out everything pretty accordingly. Websites like Politifact.com were especially useful during the debates when the public was trying to decide who was being truthful or not.

Remember, it’s an important part of growing up to form your own beliefs. Try not to just go with what your parents or older siblings think, and don’t be afraid to believe in something different.

The Economy and Job Creation

How to approach the state of our economy was probably the most talked about issue in the media. We all know that as a nation, economically, we are not doing so great right now. The American people demanded to know how these candidates were going to change that. The National Debt is over $16 trillion today, and the unemployment rate is near 7.8%.

How our candidates went about broadcasting their views is another issue, but the facts remain the same. Their published positions revealed:

Republican Candidate Governor Mitt Romney

    1. National Debt: stop funding government programs(Title X Family Planning Funding-funds Planned Parenthood, reduce subsidies for For The National Endowments For The Arts And Humanities, The Corporation For Public Broadcasting, And The Legal Services Corporation). Extend the Bush Tax Cuts(a series of tax cuts for those who make over $250,000 a year).
    2. Job Creation: the famous 5 point plan which will attempt to make America energy independent, teach Americans the skills to succeed, champion small business and to create trade that favors America.
    3. Taxes: make individual tax rate would be 20% across the board, make corporate tax rate 25%. He would also extend the Bush tax cuts.

Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama:

    1. The National Debt: Let the Bush tax cuts expire, rebuild infrastructure with money that would be spent on national defense.
    2. Job Creation:1 million new manufacturing jobs by the end of 2016, removing trade barriers, use the money that would be spent on war to put Americans back to work rebuilding infrastructure.
    3. Taxes: Let the Bush tax cuts expire, raising the taxes on those who can afford it, lifting taxes on the middle class, eliminating tax breaks for companies that ship jobs overseas to bring jobs back to the US.v

Student Loans

Are you planning on going to college in the next few years? Most kids at DHS will go to college. In this shaky economy, a lot of us will be taking out student loans to help pay for those four years. It’s an extremely relevant issue for young Americans. Here’s what the candidates had to say:

Republican Candidate Governor Mitt Romney

    1. Pell Grants*: “lower the income level at which students qualify for an automatic maximum grant, create a maximum income to be eligible for a grant, reduce the amount of income a student or family can keep to cover minimal living expenses before being expected to contribute toward college costs, freeze the maximum grant at the fiscal year 2012 level of $5,550, and make students attending school less than half-time ineligible for grants.”
    2. If elected, he would welcome intervention from the private sector.
    3. When in New Hampshire campaigning, Mr. Romney was asked if he was elected, what he would to to address the student debt crisis. His response was: "It is very tempting as a politician to say, 'You know what, I will just give you some money. The government is just going to give you some money and pay back your loans for you...I am not going to tell you something that is not the truth, because you know, that is just taking money from your other pocket and giving it to the other pocket...What I want to do is give you a great job so you'll be able to pay it back yourself. And I want to get the government off your back, so you can keep more of what you earned.”

Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama:

    1. Pell Grant awards*: double funding for Pell Grants, establish a college tax credit.
    2. “Pay As You Earn program:” caps monthly federal student loan repayment at 10% of monthly discretionary income(click here to see if you would qualify for this plan under Mr. Obama’s second term)
    3. Mr. Obama’s response to Mr. Romney’s position: “I want to make sure everybody understands not everybody has parents who have the money to lend[for college tuition].”

*Pell Grant awards are income based college loans that recipients do not have to pay back

Women’s Rights

When it came to courting the women’s vote, the two candidates had very different strategies. Both, however, made a special, increased effort to point out their opponent’s flaws on this topic. Young women should be aware of what each candidate had to say, as it’s a matter that involves their rights and future opportunities.

Republican Candidate Governor Mitt Romney

    1. Emphasizes how the poor economy has affected women: "This president has failed America's women ...They've suffered in terms of getting jobs, they've suffered in terms of falling into poverty... What they speak about day in and day out is help me find a good job, or a good job for my spouse, and help my kid, make sure my children have a bright future, better schools and better job opportunities.”

Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama:

    1. Reminds voters of the Lily Ledbetter Law: The first bill that Mr. Obama signed into office that makes it easier for women to sue for equal pay.
    2. Obamacare: “many insurance plans are beginning to fully cover birth control without co-pays or deductibles as part of women's preventive care—potentially saving women hundreds of dollars every year.”
    3. Vows to end health insurance discrimination: when insurance companies charge women more than men for the same coverage.
    4. Personally: “I’ve got two daughters, and I want to make sure that they have the same opportunities as anyone’s sons have.”

Health Care

Directly related to women’s rights, the future of American health care is was an issue that concerned young adults. There have been changes in the past four years and there may be changes in the next. Students should be aware of the stakes because it is generally considered important to have health insurance, and some may need to purchase it soon.

Republican Candidate Governor Mitt Romney

    1. “Obamacare”/The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act: on his first day in office, Mr. Romney will, “issue an executive order that paves the way for the federal government to issue Obamacare waivers to all fifty states. He will then work with Congress to repeal the full legislation as quickly as possible.”
    2. New system: Will put health care into the hands of states.
    3. Younger people who do not live in the same state as their parents can therefore still look for a plan that will allow them to stay on their parent’s plan. “Parents could choose an insurance provider that allows young adults to stay covered until age 26.”

Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama:

    1. “Obamacare”/The Patient Protection and Affordable Health Care Act: Signed into law on March 23, 2012, the bill was designed to decrease the number of uninsured Americans and reducing the overall cost of Health Care.
      1.  According to Healthcare.gov, if your parents’ plan covers children they can now add or keep you on their health insurance policy until you turn 26 years old.
      2. Before the bill was passed many insurance companies would remove children from the parent’s plan around age 19.
      3. It will cost the United States an estimated $1.17 trillion over the next ten years, according to the Congressional Budget office.
      4. In June the bill was taken to the Supreme Court due to its questionable constitutionality, but the law was upheld.
    2. “Believes a woman’s health care choices are personal decisions, best made with her doctor—without interference from politicians.”

Energy and Climate Change

Energy and Climate Change are two topics that rarely came up in the Presidential Debates, let alone the campaign. Our climate is rapidly changing, and fortunately the younger generation is aware of this. It’s important to understand our politicians’ views as this is a matter of our future climate and global environment.

Republican Candidate Governor Mitt Romney

    1. Energy Independence: plans to make the United States Energy independent by 2020(if elected twice, this would be the end of his second term) by increasing energy production, giving state governments the control in designing their own offshore and onshore energy development agendas.
    2. If elected, he will pursue a North American Energy Partnership and will approve the Keystone XL pipeline.
    3. Will allow private-sector-led developments of new energy technologies to focus on funding research and removing barriers.
    4. There is not a section that concerns the ‘Environment’ on Mr. Romney’s campaign website, but there is a bullet point under the section titled, ‘Energy,’ that says: “Mitt will pursue measured reforms of our environmental laws and regulations to strengthen environmental protection without destroying jobs or paralyzing industries.  Mitt’s plan will also streamline the gauntlet of reviews, processes, administrative procedures, and lawsuits that mire so many new projects in red tape.”

Democratic Candidate President Barack Obama:

    1. Energy Independence: Has an “All-of-the-above” plan that will further the energy independent plan that Mr. Obama has been leading the country in.
    2. End $4 billion in annual tax breaks for oil and gas companies.
    3. During First Term: more than doubled production of renewable energy from wind and solar, invested in 15,000 clean energy projects across the country, established the first national safeguards to cut down on mercury and other toxic air emissions from power plants, enacted the largest expansion of wilderness protection in a generation, and established the country’s first comprehensive ocean policy.

Want to find out about other elections? Click here to find out what happened in 2008:http://darienps.org/neirad/0811index.php

The results of our 2012 election: http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/results/president