Elections just around the corner

With the 2012 presidential election set to kick off in earnest Feb. 6 with the Iowa caucuses, the time for politicking has arrived.

Currently, 10 Republican candidates jockey for popular opinion and media attention, while President Barack Obama sits on a pretty $37 million in cash, with $11 million already spent, according to http://opensecrets.org.

In the previous election season, Obama raised $745 million, while Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., raised $368 million.

As much of a concern as campaign finance is, the real media attention this season will be on issues of budgetary and fiscal records, jobs plans and, increasingly, perceived popular movements.

The Tea Party, which rocketed to power in 2010, continues to represent a strong political force, while the emergent “Occupy Wall Street” movement commands increasing public attention.

As exhilarating as the prospect of street riots between Occupiers and Tea Partiers may be, the 2012 election is a vital political moment for our country.

Young voters who turned out in record numbers in 2008 vanished in 2010. Their enthusiasm will be demanded in 2012, especially by the Democrats, who may have high hopes for the predominantly youth-led Occupy Wall Street movement.

Indeed, these mass movements may define the election, as our liberal columnist, John Blankenship, argues, but the Tea Party may prove more a liability than a strength as it drives the Republican Party to radicalism.

Echoing his concerns, our conservative columnist, Tyler Baker, suggests that the Republican Party can only hope for an electoral win if it sticks to a moderately conservative economic position, while skirting the most divisive social issues.

Whatever their political affiliation, Transylvania students should be deeply interested in the election — not only because we are citizens with a vested interest in our nation, but because our university uniquely claims to “prepare its students for a humane and fulfilling personal and public life … and commitment to lifelong learning and social responsibility in a diverse world.”

Transylvania students should be sure to register for absentee voting well in advance, if possible for the primaries as well as the general election. Young Americans have historically abdicated their right to vote, but this should not be the case for a liberally educated campus.


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