Students are often painfully unaware of what their political leaders have planned if they get elected and a more pressing issue is that students may also not know what political agenda is best for them.
The country is coming up on its mid-term elections, which means on Nov. 2 there will be elections for senators, district representatives and most importantly the election for governor between Republican incumbent Rick Perry and Democrat Bill White. There are things within the race that will greatly affect TJC students in the coming years.
“I think less than half of the school knows who our governor candidates are,” said Daniel Mackenzie, the circulation desk manager at the TJC library.
Although Perry is a tea-party icon, the obvious favorite in this very conservative state and a rumored 2012 presidential candidate, the race has been labeled a tie in multiple polls including the public policy polling survey. Rasmussen reports that Perry is leading by a six-point margin.
Either way, the race is much closer than anyone has foreseen. This means your vote will matter, so don’t let that oft-cited excuse stop you.
Both sides have made an effort to highlight their plans for education. Bill White’s website mentions “using open sources and online materials as much as possible” in response to growing textbook cost, suggests “students should have the opportunity to pay little to no tuition with an afterschool public service commitment” and a concentrated effort on both dual credit platforms to speed up graduation and bridging the
“technological gap within the classroom.”
Perry, on the other hand, has already made technological advancements in the service of education including a program on iTunes called “Texas Education” which will supply supplemental education over iTunes. He challenged teachers to make independent podcasts but also said that non-profit organizations and state agencies will have accessible information on iTunes.
He has also passed budget cuts for higher education and overseen one of the country’s leading states in job growth. TAKS scores for all demographics have gone up consistently since 2005. He is also attempting to double the amount of science, math and technology academe.
Nevertheless he is at a disadvantage against White when it comes to education because while White has no track record outside of his experience as mayor of Houston, Perry has been the longest-running governor. Information such as teachers get paid $6,000 less in
Texas than the national average lead people to believe Texas can do better.
The campaigns themselves have become heated. Signs against Rick Perry call him a “coward” for refusing to debate Bill White, but he claims he won’t debate White until he releases his spending records from while he served on the U.S Department of Energy.
If candidates will not debate, voters have little idea of what each candidate will do based on their campaign promises alone. Students may need to do their own research across the Internet and various publications. They must also look out for being told false information.
“I’d say after wading through the misinformation, that students are about a one or two on a one to 10 scale when it comes to being informed politically,” said networking major John Rouse. This lack of truth has affected student’s abilities to properly identify exactly what it is they want politically.
“I don’t think most students perceive the true difference between parties, beyond general ideas based on stereotypes,” said English teacher Richard Parrish. “I think America is more polarized now than it ever has been. It all stems from the parties attempting to discredit the other and basically altering the truth for their own purposes.”
The founding fathers are often cited by both parties as political role models, but interestingly enough in both the Federalist papers and in George Washington’s speeches there were warnings against the dangers of a two-party system.
“The alternate domination of one faction over another, sharpened by the spirit of revenge, natural to party dissension, which in different ages and countries has perpetrated the most horrid enormities, is itself a frightful despotism,” said Washington in his farewell speech, warning against political differences overshadowing the needs of the country.
“Most students get their opinions by agreeing with or rebelling against their parents. Their beliefs often do not change until they see what the real world is offering them and how different political philosophies apply to their personal economy and safety,” said history and government teacher Stephen Stine.
This socio-cultural effect, or ” political socialization.” means that your political beliefs come from your cultural upbringing. This means your beliefs may be more complex than those of any one political party of agenda. This leads voters to feel disenfranchised, such as small business owners who feel that neither party is employing the small government strategy it claims as its own.
“There is an old saying in the sixties,” said Stine, “and it goes that if you’re not mad then you’re not paying attention and to an extent something needs to change in America.”
It is the job of the voters, and especially the youth, to find out exactly what that change is. Although “change” was the keyword in the 2008 presidential election, no shift in politics can happen without the voters being well informed.