Issie Ivins ’14
Less than a month out from the 2012 presidential election, 31 West Coulter Street is abuzz with commentary around the outcome of November 6th.
For some seniors, this election marks the first time they are allowed to vote, making 2012 far more exciting than 2008. With this new privilege comes a greater pressure to “really keep abreast of the issues at the center of the campaign,” said Michaela Krauser ’13. Knowledge of our country’s issues and where policymakers stand regarding them is a civic duty for those with voting power.
Yet even for those unable to go to the polls on November 6th, the election is still a point of focus in the GFS Upper School. Numerous students held internships and volunteer jobs over the summer working with the campaigns.
Rive Cadwallader ’14 was one such student. Based out of the Germantown office of Obama for America, Rive spent her summer organizing phone banks and registering voters. “Standing on the corner of Chelten and Greene for many hours, asking who was registered to vote,” Rive said, gave her a good outlook to results of the election in Germantown. She estimates that “about 90% of the people I spoke to were pretty pro-Obama.”
This positive indication for the Germantown Obama team did not deter hard work in the office and on the streets. Rive often worked as many 40 hours a week with the campaign, training other volunteers to conduct phone banks and voter registration as well as canvassing herself.
The intensity of Rive’s involvement with the Obama campaign has slowed down with the start of school. “With all the work we get at GFS, it’s really hard to find time to be involved,” she said. Rive is still paying attention to the election and has been focusing on it especially closely following the recent presidential and vice-presidential debates.
Though not all are as personally involved with the campaigns as Rive, many GFS students are tuned-in to the election. After watching President Obama and Governor Romney dispute domestic policy on October 3rd, Camille Choe ’14 felt disheartened that most of the criticisms around this election “are focused on personality judgments rather than policies.” Madie Lee ’14 also watched the debate and believes that Romney “skirted around what exactly he is would do in office.”
GFS is dedicated to instilling its students with an appreciation for intellectual curiosity and this has manifested in the large population of kids involved with and educated on the election this year. The school also prides itself on its students’ appreciation for equality and objectivity. Yet the GFS community tends to lean so strongly in the Democratic direction that political discussions can often isolate Republican students. Bre Smith ’16 said that in her grade, talk about the election is “mostly people insulting Romney.”
It is important that while we get excited and discussions get heated awaiting the arrival of November 6th, we do not stoop so low as to poke jabs at other students for their political beliefs. The election “is not about Obama as a person, or Romney as a person,” said Madie Lee, “it is about who will better America as a country.”
As voting day draws nearer and nearer, talk will rouse and intensify. The challenge remains keeping both a solid stance and an open mind in this rapidly changing world.