ICC students debate recent election results

Nick Stroman

A lively post-election debate is taking place among students in Dr. Griffin Hathaway’s political science class at Illinois Central College in East Peoria.

However, class has long been dismissed and the professor has already gone back to his office.

Hathaway said this passionate behavior has been typical of his classes for more than a year now, mainly because many of his students are voting for the first time.

“It’s a level of excitement I haven’t seen since spring classes, when all the kids seem to be looking forward to summer break,” Hathaway said.

Hathaway added much of it is also due to the historic nature the campaign, not just for President-elect Barack Obama, but Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton as well.

“It brought us closer to the promise of the Constitution, how all men are created equal, and how we’ve always told our children anyone can grow up to be president,” Hathaway said.

“The implicit requirements of being white, male and Protestant are forever gone,” he added.

Locally, the professor said he was a little disgusted by the 92nd district race between Jehan Gordon and Joan Krupa.

“It was the first real campaign for both, and their inexperience and thin skin showed. If there is a rematch, I think it won’t be as vicious and they’ll learn from their mistakes,” Hathaway said.

Sophomore student Bridget Bourke of Peoria said Obama’s win is positively affecting negotiations and relations with the rest of the world, and making the United States more likeable and favorable.

“It’s like the whole world is having a love fest again with America. I just heard Kenya had an ‘Obama Day,’” Bourke said.

“And Antigua is naming a mountain after him, too. The world is in love with him,” freshman Dan Robertson of Washington added.

Bourke said Obama will have many obstacles to contend with upon entering the White House, including a bad economy and a public alienated by the Republican party.

“I think Palin is what hurt the Republicans the most, though. She can’t find her way out of a wet paper bag,” Bourke said.

Ross Clymer, a sophomore from Eureka and president of the ICC Democrats, said it makes him sad to hear some Republicans are blaming college-age voters on John McCain’s loss.

“I was out there actively campaigning for Mike Smith, Jehan Gordon and Colleen Callahan, and everyone around me of every age was really excited about the youth participation this time,” Clymer added.

Clymer said there were 6,000 new voters just within the Peoria area, and many of them came from ICC and Bradley University.

Clymer added many people he spoke with while campaigning were once straight Republican voters, and now considering the view from the Democratic side of the aisle.

“It was like they were finally listening. They said they would probably go back to Republican, but for this time out, it was different, and they wanted a fresh perspective,” Clymer said.

Clymer added the first two years of Obama’s presidency are vital for the Democratic party, but his first four years will probably be difficult.

“He has lots of work ahead of him, but you can tell he can’t wait to start the job and wants to get in there tomorrow,” Clymer said.

“I think there will be new goodwill with countries like France, Germany, Russia and Afghanistan. We’ve come back to the ’90’s way of hope for the U.S. and respect and love from other countries,” he added.

“It was crappy, but now there’s hope,” sophomore Ray Nicholson of East Peoria said.

Student Ciara Lawson said she thinks Americans should give Obama some time before making any criticisms of his leadership.

“No matter what he does, there will be criticism. But we have to remember, he didn’t create all this mess we’re in, and one man can’t do it all and fix it,” Lawson added.

Sophomore Jake Stodgel of Pekin said he agrees it will be hard for Obama in his first two years, but not for the same reasons his fellow students stated.

“He has no executive ability, and his voting record is not the greatest. I also don’t think he was the popular choice for Illinois senator and was just who was left when Ryan was taken out,” Stodgel said.

“I agree his win is a display of great change, but I’m just waiting to see if it’s for good or bad,” he added.

Stodgel said the media’s fascination with and attacks on Sarah Palin were unfair.

“They never gave her a chance to be boss. Under McCain’s thumb, she had to be his voice, and I think we’ll be surprised by her in the future,” Stodgel said.

Stodgel added he was an Aaron Schock supporter in this election, and he thinks Schock’s next leap might be a future run for governor of Illinois.

Hathaway said he cannot think of a President-elect in history that has had the hype and expectations of Obama.

“Maybe JFK or Reagan, but even those can’t compare. It might be the 24/7 intensity that the blogosphere and technology have put on this race,” Hathaway said.

“The Internet means all your successes and your mistakes have instant reaction,” he added.

Hathaway said caution and patience are key, though, for the American people.

“It’s been eight years since we’ve had a Democrat in the White House, so change won’t happen instantly. Governing the U.S. is not like driving through a fast-food place,” Hathaway added.