This is Vassar: The newsletter for Vassar College Alumnae/i and Families

Photo credit: Craig Burdett

Molly Finkelstein ’08 Picks a Presidential Candidate

I write to you from West Palm Beach, Florida (Spring Break!), a tropical locale where I also happened to be during the 2000 election. West Palm Beach being the site of the infamous hanging chad debacle, it was quite an interesting time to be there, even if it was just for my cousin’s bar mitzvah. I met more than one doctor who accidentally voted for Buchanan. Now, eight years later, I can actually vote and, hopefully, not accidentally pick the wrong candidate.

My friends and I have looked into the issues and taken many all-important online quizzes to see whom we should vote for. I’m still a little disappointed that my perfect (according to the Internet) candidate, Mike Gravel, the senator from Alaska, dropped out of the race before I could vote for him. I couldn’t tell you his specific views on anything, except that I’m pretty sure they’re very liberal.

As Vassar students, we care, we really do, about politics and issues and all that, but we’re still fairly isolated in our mid-Hudson hideaway. We’re well-meaning and we want to be involved, but we’re also really busy. We have lots of very important reading and labs and Blackboard posts to do — and, let’s not forget, we try to have some semblance of a social life. This is not to say that a social life and politics are mutually exclusive. During the ’04 election debates, in my freshman year, I remember people crowding into my dorm multipurpose room and turning the debates into a kind of game where we paid attention to every time a candidate said “America,” every time Cheney looked like he was about to have a heart attack, and every time Edwards was adorable.

This year, I got to watch the debates in the comfort of my own senior apartment (and in HD!). My housemates and I and a group of our friends sat around the TV listening, actually listening to the candidates speak. We even talked about issues. While most of us are hardcore liberals, one of my housemates revealed in the course of the debates that he voted for Huckabee. This, of course, led to quite a few debates of our own.

For the rest of us, though, our votes went to Obama. We learned about the issues (pretty much) and we put our research skills to work. But in the end our votes were also influenced by an emotional reaction, something rare in preemptively jaded college students. Obama, with his messages of change and hope, speaks to those of us old enough to have seen the debacles starting with the 2000 election: we were already jaded by politics. Obama, though, feels like one of us; he even looks like one of us. He looks like a cocky, gawky 20-year-old in a suit, pretending to be a grown-up, just like us. We know that our generation is going to have to fix the mess this country has become and we, with Obama representing us, want to start now.

April 2008

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