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War is foremost on voters’ minds

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Bailey Porter
Editorial Director

The war on terrorism is a key motivator to some of the University of La Verne population’s voting plans for the 2004 election.

This is a wartime election, said Richard Gelm, political science chair at the University of La Verne. Parallels can be drawn between the war on terrorism and the war in Vietnam, he said.

The United States’ war on terrorism is a main focus of the election for many ULV students and faculty. But with neither candidate giving the public a realistic timeframe for the end to the war, some students, like Phil Redmon, said they are not satisfied with President Bush or Democratic candidate John Kerry.

“For the first time, I don’t want either of them to win,” said Redmon, an English major. However, his vote will go to Kerry.

Redmon’s concern for the state of world affairs, especially surrounding Iraq and his disillusionment of the Bush administration’s decision to go to war has him looking to new leadership.

“Bush and Kerry need to figure out what to do in the future (of the war),” said senior English major Jasmine Aburas. She is responding like much of the American population to the two candidates’ tendency to sidestep the issue.

As of press time, Bush and Kerry have not directly confronted the war in Iraq, but last night’s debate, the first of three for the candidates, should have pressed the topic.

“Bush has not told us how we are going to win and he even said the war on terrorism is not winnable. He then had to correct himself the next day,” Gelm said.

“Reelecting Bush does not indicate that an end of the war in Iraq is visible.”

Senior political science major Melissa Castillo said she can trust Bush.

“I don’t have to guess. I know where he stands,” said Castillo, who recently helped start a College Republicans club on campus.

“I don’t think Kerry has the ability to fulfill his promises – they’re too idealistic,” she said, adding that regardless of a timeframe that Kerry might give for getting out of Iraq, it will take much longer.

“I believe in the Republican platform that everything is up to the individual and we need to stop depending on the government so much because otherwise we’ll never be successful,” she said.

The war on terrorism dominates media coverage of the presidential election making it one of the foremost issues in the minds of American voters. But as Aburas said, there are many other reasons to vote in the election.

When she votes on November 2, she will also consider women’s rights, the economy and health care.

She said Kerry will protect more women’s rights, like women’s right to choose, while Bush will continue trying to limit them. She wants to see women’s rights to abortions upheld and free birth control available to the public.

“There are tremendous social issues at stake,” Gelm said.

Supreme Court justices will be retiring in the next few years, which could mean a major shift in the direction of laws upheld by the courts. Gelm said while both candidates are opposed to same sex marriage, for example, the difference will come with how aggressively each chooses to act on this when filling justices’ seats during the next administration. He said Kerry is likely to be less aggressive.

For some students, like sophomore biology major Connie Elejalde, the issues surrounding the election do not seem close enough to home to draw much opinion.

“I should vote,” Elejalde said, “I am registered so I will, but I don’t know enough of what’s going on.”

What Elejalde has picked up though is that candidates are not answering the Iraq question.

She said she is not sure where Kerry stands with Iraq and Bush has not given a real reason for still being there.

Aburas, however, looks to her own family to justify her vote.

“Health care – it’s ridiculous. Old people like my grandma should not be paying hundreds of dollars for their pills,” she said, adding that voters should consider the baby boomer generation’s need for health care but the reality that they are not getting it.

Gelm also said the baby boomers’ need for social security and Medicare will affect students in the next 15 years since students will be paying for these programs.

“Studies say for the first time the next generation could be economically less well off than the previous generation,” he said.

For many young people who think because they are not immersed in a full-time job they are not affected by the economy this could be reason enough to vote this year.

Paying off the country’s historic debt will cut into students’ future economic livelihood, Gelm said.

Castillo said it is important for voters not to get sidetracked by thinking of this as only a presidential election. There are California congressional seats and many propositions to also vote on, she said.

Sophomore psychology major Nancy Arzate will vote for change in the White House. She wants both candidates to explain their plans about the war, but she said Kerry brings the possibility of new ideas and Bush will continue the war.

Castillo said Bush is strong for staying in Iraq.

“Once we start something we’re going to finish it, or else, it will be another Vietnam,” she said.

Bailey Porter can be reached at

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