BSM students and teachers participate in monumental election

Chloe Quinn

Energy filled the air November 4, as BSM students and teachers alike anxiously awaited the outcome of the 2008 presidential election. Regardless of party affiliation, Democrats, Republicans, and Independents came together to witness the historical battle of red versus blue between John McCain and Barack Obama.

Numerous BSM teachers and students played a role in this election, whether it was through class discussions, raising awareness of national and local issues, or just showing up to vote. For the seniors who were lucky enough to be born before or on November 4, 2008 this meant getting to fill out a ballot for the first time.

“You feel like you’re actually making a difference,” said Laura Hickey, who chose to vote for Obama this year. Although some were nervous about the long wait or whether voting would be difficult, “It was surprisingly easy,” said Zach Mahler.

While some students stood in line to vote, others worked as election judges at various St. Louis Park polling locations to learn more about the election process. Working in shifts, the election judges organized ballots, cut “I Voted” stickers, helped register new voters, and ensured that people’s election experience went smoothly. “I worked here at Benilde. There was a line from all the way out the door almost to the second part of the Haben parking lot. It was a good feeling to see the voter turnout,” said Mike Hoff.

Many students and teachers, both Republicans and Democrats, agreed that the election of Obama was fair and reflects what the country wants. Furthermore, the majority of people anticipated the Democrat’s win based on the predictions seen on the television, in newspapers, and heard on the radio. “I think that the polls prepared people for the election to be in Barack’s favor,” said Ms. Koshiol.

There was an large margin of victory on Obama’s part, winning 364 of the electoral votes. Surprisingly, Obama won many of the key swing states that McCain needed to win, including Virginia, Ohio, Pennsylvania, and Florida, which guaranteed Obama’s lead in the race.

One word that many Americans heard throughout the election was “change” and people from all parties felt that the United States needed a charismatic leader and a fresh face to follow George W. Bush’s unpopular legacy of the last eight years. Democrats especially viewed McCain’s affiliation with Bush as a huge factor that led to his defeat, while others felt that McCain’s choice of Sarah Palin as his vice president backlashed because she appeared to lack political experience. “I think it would’ve been a much closer race if [McCain] would’ve picked someone else,” Allyssa Schik said.

Now that Obama has won, the question is just how much change will he actually bring. The nation faces a severe economic crisis and the U.S. is involved in two wars; Americans have countless other issues that they want to see addressed, as well. Clearly, the next president has a lot of pressure placed on him. As senior Michelle Brooks said, “It will be interesting to see what [Obama] does because people kind of have him on a pedestal right now.”

Anne Huber, who voted for Obama, said, “I really want to see real change. I really want to see him follow through with his promises.”

Many Americans agree that both Obama and McCain would have been influential leaders of the country. Courtney Olson said that “the messages portrayed by both the candidates were strong.” Historically speaking, not only did the Republicans have the oldest candidate running and the Democrats had a young candidate, but also “a multiracial man [was] at the top of the ticket and a female [was] a vice presidential candidate,” said Mr. Jones.

Another significant aspect of this election was the topic of race, as Obama was the first multiracial man to be elected president of the United States. Senora Guzman, head of Peers Respecting Others, said, “With him winning, I feel that we are moving in the right direction, that we are eliminating some of the racial bias, and that we are actually making decisions about the character versus the color of the skin.”

Obama’s election further illustrates that Americans are willing to start in a new direction by working to overcome the racial barrier. “It’s finally OK to have a different race in power, which is huge for our country,” said Michelle Brooks. Not only was Obama’s victory a crucial step in redefining America’s perception of race, but the election itself brought out diversity in opinions from all parties. “You saw a lot of different ideas of experience, different interpretations of the issues, [and] different demographics represented by each of the tickets,” AP Government teacher Ms. Weisgram said.

Now that the national presidential election has come to a close, BSM students and teachers will once again return to their daily routine, amidst all the political discussion. Despite everyone’s personal opinions regarding this election, many agree that the nation must look to the future to see what will happen under Obama’s leadership. “While not all citizens are pleased with the results, I do believe that it is vitally important for us to come together as one nation willing and open to the ideas of change,” Mr. St. Martin said.