2008 Presidential Corner: Obama, Romney near front of pack of ’08 contenders (Part 1)

By Katelyn Friel

With much of the nation’s focus on the war in Iraq, it is difficult to believe that the government is truly concentrating on the topics that directly benefit us. However, with the 2008 Presidential Election fast approaching, it is time for everyone, college students included, to set aside this cynical view. It is time to take a closer look at the candidates promising to make the necessary changes to strengthen our nation. At the forefront is one of the Democratic party’s leading candidates: Sen. Barack Obama of Illinois.

Who is Sen. Barack Obama? Most notably, he is a presidential candidate. Elected into the U.S. Senate in 2004, he strongly believes in the promotion of responsible fatherhood and putting a stop to the growing trend of government corruption. Like the other Democratic candidates, Sen. Obama is zeroing in on matters that will bring national and international change. He is against the war in Iraq and is promising to have a complete withdrawal of the troops by the end of next year. Along with hopes to end the war, he intends to strengthen America’s waning international relations and public image.

Setting international relations aside, on the home front, Obama is making a strong push to implement a universal health-care system. Nearly 50 million Americans are without health coverage. He plans to ensure that every American is eligible for health coverage, save the average family nearly $2,500 a year in co-pays and “require that all children have health care coverage.” Sooner rather than later, we will be responsible for paying for hospital visits, prescriptions and aging parents’ medical bills. When this happens, a universal health-care system would be a welcomed benefit.

As I am running out of room, it is important to address one last topic that directly relates to our lives as students — America’s education system.

Wishing to strengthen every level of education, Obama believes college should be affordable and that everyone should have an equal opportunity to pursue higher education. His strategy to facilitate these pursuits is through maximizing federal college aid by changing the Pell Grant’s highest award amount. He also strives to “increase need-based aid and decrease the fees and interest rates on student loans.” For all of us with tens of thousands of dollars in student loans waiting for us upon graduation, Obama’s proposal is certainly one to consider when making our choice for the primary election.

Whether Democrat or Republican, conservative or liberal, these labels become obsolete if you do not make the effort to get out there and learn about the candidates. As American citizens, we must take the reins, harnessing the power that is rightfully ours. We can direct the changes we wish to see our nation make. All it takes is to become informed and, in turn, make sound, reasoned decisions. No longer do we have the excuse that the information is inaccessible. Go onto Sen. Obama’s MySpace page or his official website, www.barackobama.com, and learn more about this candidate. He, along with all of the other candidates, have something to say. Now, it is our time to listen and act.

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