By Lis Stewart
With the Republican primaries heating up, candidates for the presidential nomination are stirring the pot and casting in their views on issues, and President Obama’s re-election campaign is working to prove his record. But in deciding who to support, knowing what is at stake is important. What are the issues, and how likely are they to affect college students? We talked with Sterling Morris, one of the founding members of PoliticIt, about the basics students ought to pay attention to when picking a candidate in the upcoming elections.
Economic Growth & Job Creation
“Students should pay attention to a presidential candidate’s economic knowledge,” Morris explained. The economy affects jobs, and as college graduates are on the hunt for jobs before or soon after they get a diploma, they should be concerned about what each candidate has to say, Morris said.
There are more college graduates with jobs than the national average, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ November unemployment report. But the same study reported 4.4 percent of graduates with a bachelor’s degree or higher are unemployed. Thus job creation is still a hot issue for soon-to-be college graduates in the coming election. Morris said each candidate has their own plan for how to create jobs in an economy struggling to get to its feet.
At a very basic level, the candidates are down to the role of the government. “Some candidates believe the best way to create the job is through government intervention, via quotas, government stimuli, and other top-down means,” Morris said. “Other candidates tackle the issue of job creation by suggesting that the government get out of the business and let Americans create their own opportunities.”
War and Foreign Affairs
The economy and job market are not only affected by policies at home, but abroad as well. Students should look out for a candidate’s position on China, the largest foreign shareholder of the US national debt. What happens to China will affect job growth in the U.S. Because of the Asian market’s hold on debt and imports to the U.S., that part of the world is the place to watch in the near future. Whoever is in charge of the country will have to play the intricate chess game brewing in that part of the world, even if it comes to war.
Morris recommended students stay on top of what the candidates say about war and conflict. Young people need to find a candidate whose views on war align with their own. “The U.S. is participating in several wars. … As young college students, it’s important to reflect on them,” Morris said. “Some feel that the involvement of America in foreign nations is keeping our nation safe.”
The National Debt
The United States is 15 trillion dollars in debt and that number is climbing. Wouldn’t it be nice for once to see the debt clock go down a number instead of up? Or, maybe the debt isn’t a concern. Either way, the federal government’s bill affects everybody’s future, including that of students.
For Morris, social security–which students are automatically contributing to from their paychecks–is a volatile ingredient. Social security is slated to run out in 2036, just in time for the current college-age generation to retire, according to a May 2011 report from the Social Security and Medicare Board of Trustees.
Morris suggested the government will probably continue to spend on social security by printing more money. This will lead to inflation, the dollar being worth less than it already is. “This is significant for every American,” Morris explained. “A devalued currency wipes out the middle class of any country and results in aggregate rises in the real cost of various goods.” In other words, the upper-income class can survive inflation, the lower-income class will be supported by the government, and the middle class will struggle to make ends meet.
That is, unless the system can be fixed. “Each candidate has a different approach with different levels of rigor in their solution to this looming crisis,” Morris said. “I would recommend looking into how each candidate says she or he will attack this issue.” Candidates could propose raising the debt limit or enacting policies to lower what we already owe.
A Touch on Religion and Morals
Finally, Morris cautions students to not get caught up on a candidate’s religious or moral values. “Many feel that if a candidate shares the same religious views as them, that she or he will represent those views in office,” Morris said. “This is rarely the case.” People who pick a candidate just because they have the same religious or moral background do themselves a disservice, just as much as those who vote for a candidate because of the political party they belong to.
When evaluating a candidate, Morris explained, look for what qualities he/she has that represent your religious or moral standpoint. “For instance, you may see that you value someone with honesty, integrity, and consistency,” he said.
Picking a candidate to support can be difficult, but the choice will be smarter and less complicated if students know what to look for. Basically, it’s all about knowing where you stand on the issues, and picking someone you agree with.
**The comments of Sterling Morris are his own personal views and in no way reflect those of PoliticIt.
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