Thursday, August 2, 2012

Focus Group Summary Data : What We Learned About Young Voters in 2012 Presidential Campaign


During spring 2012, members of the COM 398: Controlling Spin class conducted four separate focus groups to determine how engaged young voters (defined as between 17-30) were in the presidential primary.  Specifically, we wanted to determine what issues or concerns were affecting their perceptions of the 2012 campaigns, how they acquired political information about the race, the level of their affiliation with political party or ideology, and their assessment of how effectively the presidential primary campaigns were at addressing their interests.

Four focus groups were conducted, two within the COM 398 class, one with students in COM 102 and a fourth at the Bigler High School Journalism Conference held at Wilkes University on April 13. A total of 43 individuals participated, almost evenly split between females and males.  Specific demographic breakdowns will be included with each focus group.

(1) FG#1        

5 males and 5 females; all 10 were registered voters.

Political affiliation: 5 registered Democrats, 3 registered as Independents and 2 as Republicans. All 10 were Wilkes University Communication Studies majors enrolled in the COM 398 class and had been following the 2012 presidential primary throughout the semester.  Ages ranged from 19-23.

Issues that they wanted to hear about in the 2012 presidential campaign, in order of frequency: (a) jobs; (b) growing student loans and debt; (c) making the educational system a top priority (not just higher education); (d) gay rights (including marriage)/civil and human rights; (e) health care, and (f) issues of women’s rights.

Excerpts regarding “issues” from discussion:

“Outsourcing jobs to India and China—especially Apple’s iPod in China, is affecting jobs here. Production jobs need to be returned here…we need federal incentives for businesses to in-source jobs in U.S.”

“The poor job market combined with escalating college loan debt, functions as a double-edged blow to my generation’s ability to create a secure future.”

“I will leave college with over $50,000 in college debt. It will take many years to pay that down, even if I get a job after graduating in May.”

“Education should be the last program cut when budget cuts are applied.”

 “We need to stop accepting poor teaching…and graduating students who fail.”

“The U.S. is long past the point of singling out a group as being unprotected by their civil rights, including marrying whomever they choose.”

“Gay marriage is an issue of civil rights and equality—and not religion.”

“My recent visit to a local emergency room would have cost over $14,000, but I was covered by my parent’s insurance. I support Obama Care.”

“We need to make contraceptives available to everyone. Do not outlaw birth control.”

Birth control is a health care issue for many people. I strongly disagree with candidates who link birth control to religion and morality. For me, birth control is a health issue, and not always used as a contraceptive.”

When asked how candidate character and personal traits, as well as campaign strategies, might influence who they vote for in 2012, FG#1 mentioned in rank order: (a) being relatable; (b) honesty; (c) stop negative ads; (d) demonstrate foresight and long-term vision for the country; and (e) stop using devil/god terms; left/right polarizing language.

Excerpts from FG#! On “candidate character or traits” that will
Determine who they will vote for in 2012:

“Be relatable. If you want my vote you should not be condescending when speaking to or about young voters, middle-class voters or women.”

 “Put constituent needs ahead of self-interests.”

“Honesty is the key. Determining who is honest is very hard in a political campaign.”

“Please embrace nonpartisanship—I am so sick of campaigning in Republican or Democratic terms. Address the whole nation’s needs.”

“Stop the negative ads!  I tune them out.”

“In this election I can’t tell if an ad is the voice of the candidate or funded by some multi-millionaire PAC. The ugliest ads that attack others get away with it because a PAC sponsors it. This election’s ads are nastier than ever.”

“We really need campaign finance reform—now.”

“ I know people want to hear how a candidate will make their lives better right now. But I expect a President to have foresight, long-term vision for how we can move forward.”

“Polarizing language, like devil/god terms insult me. Don’t candidates realize young voters can see right past those cheap tactics?”

The group was also asked how they get their information about the presidential campaign.  Acknowledging that this specific group may be better informed than most because of their enrollment in this class, they acquire information about the 2012 campaign from: (a) conversations with their friends who follow politics; (b) Twitter from on-line news sources; (3) on-line news, mostly headlines from CNN; (d) Jon Stewart and the Comedy Channel; and (e) a tie between blogs and local newspapers.

Excerpts regarding how they acquire political information:

“I learn the most from our conversations in class and outside of class. I am interested in why my friends feel the way they do about the election.”

“I read CNN headline news…seldom more than that unless it is something that interests me.”

“I get my news on-line. I don’t read local or national papers.”

“Now I get Twitter updates from Politico. I read what comes to me as a text.”

“Most of my friends get their political news from Jon Stewart or the others on the Comedy Channel. I think their sarcasm is more objective than most political newscasts—they ridicule everyone equally.”

“I don’t have the time to watch 30 minutes of news. It doesn’t interest me.”

Comments on how engaged they are in the campaign and the political process over-all, included repeated comments like this following:

I am a registered Independent. I don’t want anything to do with the major political parties. They don’t speak to my needs as a young college student. Maybe I am a Libertarian.”

“Ten years from now, almost no young voters will identify with either the Republican or Democratic party. A real generational divide has emerged and it won’t go away.”

(2) FG #2 

This focus group was conducted in mid-March and involved 4 males and 4 females, all Communication Studies students enrolled in the COM 398 class. Again, they were probably better informed than their peers because of the content of the class. Of the participants, 3 were registered Democrats, 2 were Republican, 1 Independent and 2 were not registered to vote.  Ages ranged from 19-24.

Regarding the issues that mattered to them, they agreed with the topics raised in FG #1, but in addition added the following:

“There needs to be a separation of church and state. That separation should be there but listening to this campaign it is clear the church still influences the political process.”

 “I strongly oppose censorship on the internet. This is actually related to job creation and revenue development.”

 In terms of how they get their political information, this group expanded on the role of social media:

“Everyone our age is reached through the social media—first and frequently.”

“People want to be entertained, especially our generation. That’s why Jon Stewart is a source of campaign information. I watched the GOP primary debate in SC with my friends. And we made fun of everything—the moderator, the candidates and how seriously they took it. We didn’t take it seriously at all.”

“My family is not very politically involved. I was taught that you can’t trust politicians and that they are all liars.”

“I have not been taught how to vote…or why.”

The relevance of the two-party system came up repeatedly in FG#2:

“The two party system is ridiculous; it is judgmental and labels people.”

The parties spend way too much money and spend too much time fighting. That’s just not relevant to me. In fact, it makes me want to stay away from politics.”

“For me, and many of my peers, it’s time for No parties, just people.”

Final note: when asked if they had to vote for President at that time, which of the leading candidates would they vote for, 15 said they would vote for President Obama and 3 for Mitt Romney.

(3) FG#3  

The third focus group consisted of 8 Wilkes students enrolled in COM 102: Principles of Communication class, which is required of Communication Studies, Integrated Media, and some undeclared students. All eight were registered to vote. There were 4 males and 4 females, aged 18-23.  They were asked a similar question protocol as FG #1 and 2. Four of the eight were registered Independent, 2 Democrats, 1 Republican and 1 Libertarian.

Regarding issues or topics that concern them, this FG agreed with FG #1 and 2 and ranked jobs and the economy as the number one issue that concerned them. However, the other issues difference somewhat. Issues in rank order: (a) the economy, specifically jobs; (2) education and (3) and abortion as related to birth control.

Excerpts from discussion of issues in FG#3:

 “No one seems to know how to fix the economy. I will vote for someone who can restore a sense of well being.”

 “Obama is doing damage.”

“I look ahead and I don’t see jobs.”

“Abortion is an issue that will heavily sway who I vote for.”

“I could argue for hours on birth control and abortion, but that is a personal stand.”

When asked how they get their political information, FG#3 expanded the discussion into how they learned anything about politics.

Excerpts from FG#3’s discussion of sources of influence and information:

“I don’t follow politics.” {Mentioned by four participants)

 “My parents never pushed politics, they never encouraged me at all. However, my high school did.”

“In my high school history class, we were given voter registration forms when you turned 18.”

“My parents heavily encouraged me, and politics was discussed daily at home. They are involved in local politics and pushed me to become a Democrat, so I became a fan of the Republicans.”

“I have friends who are active in politics. I listen to them.”

FG#3 participants acquire political information about the 2012 campaign from: (a) friends—conversations and Face Book; (2) SNL and comedy shows; (3) CNN and to a limited degree (4) local papers. Only one follows national news; one follows local news coverage “of the corruption.”

“I get information from CNN on basic issues and the candidates.

“When my friend who is interested in politics posts something on Facebook, if I’m interested I will look.” (Several agreed about getting information from Face Book postings by their friends.)

“I get most of my information—all subjects-- from Face Book and Twitter.”

“I watch Saturday Night Live and enjoy when they make fun of the candidates, esp. after the GOP debates.”

“I talk to peers…that’s where I learn about the campaign.”

“We don’t pay attention to politics, or news in general. I would tell the next generation of young voters to stay better informed and educate themselves, even if they don’t want to.”

“I stay out of political discussions. I don’t like the rift it creates between people.”

FG#3 was also opinionated about the two-party system.

Excerpts on the two-party system from FG#3:

“I am a Democrat and will always be a Democrat. However, I am not blindly voting for someone just because of their party.”

“It [two-party system] works, so why add more parties? That would make it more confusing.”

“The Tea Party is way too extreme.”

“If I have to pick, it would be the lesser of two evils. A no party system makes sense. It should be the person or individual candidate and not the party that shapes voting.”

“Republicans today are what Democrats used to be—militating for change and social reform.”

When asked who they would vote for, if the election were held on the day of the FG, this group had a tepid response. Two said possibly Obama, one possibly Romney and five said they didn’t think they could vote for any of the current candidates

(4)  FG#4. 

On April 13, the fourth focus group was held as part of the annual Bigler High School Journalism Conference at Wilkes University. Knowing the participants would be high school-aged, the questions were adapted to the “next generation” of voters.  FG#4 had 17 participants, 9 males and 8 females. The ages ranged from 14-18. Students were from 6 different high schools in northeastern PA. FG#4 differed from the other three in several key ways. They were younger. They were more politically informed. And, they seemed to have been strongly influenced by the Libertarian Party.  Even though they were from 6 different schools, the affiliation to the Libertarian Party transcended any one school’s influence or location.  If they were to register now, seven of the 17 would register as Libertarians; 4 Democrats; 4 Republicans and 2 as Independents.

(The FG moderator did a follow up on how they were defining Libertarian to make sure they knew what the party was. All seven gave clear, detailed explanations of the Libertarian Party.)

When asked where and how they first were introduced to the importance of politics and voting, their responses were, in rank order: (a) reading on-line newspapers daily; (b) national broadcast media, including on-line broadcasts; (c) classes and teachers at school;
(d) Jon Stewart and Colbert Report and  (e) Twitter and Face Book postings by friends.

Excerpts on sources of information from FG#4:

“I listen to Glen Beck.”

“I have a history class that discusses the election and the parties every day. I get a lot of information from our discussions and my teacher,”

 “I actually watch Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report to learn about the campaign and debates.”

“I follow some blogs and Fox News.”

“I get all of my news on-line. It is easier and faster.”

When asked about the issues that mattered to them, FG#4 participants were both vague and strongly aligned with religion.  They cited the following as issues that concerned them: (a) jobs/employment and  (2) birth control and abortion.  Almost no comments were made on education.

Excerpts on issues from FG #4:

“Life begins at conception. I am pro-life and that shapes my vote.”

“Separation of church and state is important. The Republican views on birth control and a woman’s right to choose are being taken way too seriously.”

“There is a big divide between us and our parents and grandparents. Their issues—social security, Medicare, Iraq—those are not my issues.”

“I will not vote for anyone who supports abortion.”

When asked about the two-party system, FG#4 was the least hostile to political parties. However, they were strongly supportive of third parties, specifically the Libertarian Party. When asked if the election were to be held now, six would vote for Ron Paul, five for Obama and three for Romney. The others had no opinion at this time.

Excerpts from FG#4:

“In the Northern Tier the Tea Party Republicans are solid. I am with them.”

“Government should not regulate business or an individual’s freedom. I am behind Ron Paul.”


Key Take-Away Trends from Four Focus Groups of Young Voters Conducted at Wilkes University - May 2012

Four separate focus groups involving 43 individuals were conducted from March through mid-April by the COM 398: Controlling Spin—News, PR and Politics class at Wilkes University.  The participants ranged in age from 14-24.  Twenty-five of the 43 participants were already registered to vote, with 18 not registered.  After analyzing the data from the focus groups, five key take-away trends among these young voters—and the next generation of voters—suggest a changing electorate.

•Young voters get almost all information about the 2012 presidential campaign from conversations with friends and from social media (especially Face Book and Twitter).  CNN Headline News, Jon Stewart and the Colbert Report were mentioned more often as  “political news sources” than any other broadcast or print sources.

“Everyone our age is reached through social media—first and frequently.”

•There is distrust of the 2-party system among young voters, coupled
with growing registration as Independents among the 18-24 year olds.  Of the 26 participants old enough to register, their registrations included:
            Democrat                  38.5% (10)
            Independent             31% (8)
            Republican               19% (5)
            Libertarian               .04% (1)
            Not Registered         .08% (2)

Of the total 43 participants, including the high school students, while “Democrat” was most often selected, the combined registration as “Independent” and “Libertarian” totaled 42% of the young voters.
            Democrat                  32.5% (14)
            Independent             23% (10)
            Republican               21% (9)
            Libertarian               18.5% (8)
            Not Registered         4.5 % (2)

“Ten years from now, almost no young voters will identify with either the Republicans or Democrats. A real generational divide has emerged and it won’t go away.”

•Issues that concern young voters most are: jobs, mounting student loans and debt, improving quality of over-all educational system, civil rights for gays, including marriage, and separation of church and state.  Regarding issues, age matters. There was a big difference between how 18-24 year olds responded to this question and how the high school students, aged 14-18 responded.

“I graduate in May with $50,000 in debt from college.  I am concerned about my job prospects since I will be paying off loans for years.”

The U.S. is long past the point of singling out a group as being unprotected
By their civil rights, including marrying whomever they choose.”

•Young voters, and the next generation of voters, are very media savvy and see campaigns that use negative ads as divisive. Polarizing language is seen as typical of two-party campaigning.

“Polarizing language insults me, especially god/devil terms. Don’t candidates realize young voters can see right past these cheap tactics?”

“Be relatable. If you want my vote, you should not be condescending when speaking to or about young voters, middle-class voters or women.”

•At the time of the focus groups in March-April 2012, when asked, “If the election were held today, which of the presidential candidates would you voter for” young voters were leaning toward President Obama or not voting at all.
            Obama                        51% (22)
            No One                       19% (8)
            Romney                      16% (7)
            Paul                            14% (6)

Saturday, April 28, 2012

How to Get Cathryn Frear's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto




Generation Y is a lot of things.  We are the first set of kids brought up in a truly digital age.  We are the kids brought up with bubble-gum pop and a major wave of boy/girl bands. We are the kids who worship the 90s.  We are another thing, as well: we’re adults and no longer kids.  We’re grownups now and grownups make grownup decisions, whether they like it or not.  We had a high voter turnout last election, and I say we keep that rolling this election, too.

As for me, I have a few criteria which a candidate must abide by if he or she wants my vote.  Here goes:

Pro-education


And when I say pro-education, I don’t mean they just LIKE education, I mean they fight for and protect it.  My stepmom is a fourth grade teacher and possibly the biggest complaint in our house about the educational system in America is there are too many standardized tests.  There has to be a better way.  I don’t have the solution; that’s not my job.  But I do have a vote to choose who I think will have the solution.

Military "Can we get out of places we don't belong?"



We’re at war with everyone when we should only maybe waging war with Al Qaeda and that’s it.  Iran is a real threat, yes, but if there is some more diplomatic way to solve the Iran problem, let’s do that.  Iraq was basically our generation’s Vietnam.  Obviously it wasn’t nearly as bad and no war is completely comparable to another, but they had some commonalities.  It was pointless, many of our young people died, and we spent years dragging this out instead of using our money for more important things.  Like the deficit.  Or rebuilding homes for Hurricane Katrina victims.  Or feeding the needy.  Reasons for being at war with Iraq really pale in comparison to actually worthy causes.

Civil rights

Our generation’s civil rights movement is mostly to do with gays.  This is the most important criterion.  This is the true deciding factor for me.  There are some things I will never understand.  The inability for same-sex couples to devote their lives to one another and have that recognized and protected by the government is one of them.  I believe strongly in separation of Church and State.  If certain Churches don’t want to allow marriages to be performed by their people, fine.  Forget about the Pope.  Let him twirl around in his fancy, Bejazzled dress telling you your path to salvation is crumbling before you.  Whatever.  But the government should still marry these people.  Marriage recognized by the government gives couples certain rights; almost 2000 rights which are not protected, even if the couple is civilly unionized.  I would go into the rights, but think about it this way: the phrase “what’s yours is mine” is taken pretty literally by the government.  Apply that to nearly every right American citizens have and there you have what it legally means to be married.  It’s Not only unfair and unjust to put laws such as the Defense of Marriage Act, which defines marriage as between one man and one woman unless your state feels otherwise, it’s unconstitutional.  The federal government needs to step in and stand by the unalienable rights of all citizens.

What it comes down to and what I’m trying to say here is, vote.  Educate yourself on the issues and who stands for what and cast your ballot.  Even if you vote against what I believe, at least you let yourself be heard.  Because whoever is in office will help to decide a lot of important things.  Those things will affect you and every single American citizen.  In a big way.

Cathryn Frear
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012


How to Get Gillyan Gowarty's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto



I may be a young voter, and I may not have had the opportunity to vote in a presidential election yet because of my age, but this does not mean that I do not have opinions. I am a registered Republican, but I will vote based on where the candidate stands on issues that are important to me, even if that candidate is not a Republican. This will most likely be the case in the next election, because I am not at all impressed with the Republican candidates thus far.

Jobs

I am a student, but I will be graduating this coming May, so student aid is not at the top of my priority list at this point. I am much more concerned about being able to get a job and being able to move out of my parent’s house and support myself. I am also concerned about healthcare. My health is far from perfect, and if I cannot find a job that will allow me to purchase my own health insurance, I am going to be in big trouble. I am currently on my parent’s healthcare plan, which is great for now, but it is not a long-term plan. I do not necessarily agree with Obama’s bill that will allow children to be on their parents’ healthcare plan until they are 26. To some degree, I think this is a good idea, because if I should be unable to find a job right away, I will still be protected. However, I think it is encouraging children to stay in their parents’ homes and live off of them without even looking for a job, because it is not necessary. I think this is wrong. I do live with my parents right now, and I am very thankful for that, but I do not look at it as a long-term solution. I want to be able to move out on my own and support myself. This is why I went to college. I would like to get married someday, but my mother always taught me the importance of being able to live independent of a man, as she has done and could do now if it becomes necessary. This leads me to my next point.

End Gender Inequality

In order to get my vote, do not talk down to me because I am a woman. Do not tell me how I should live my life or what my duties are. If I choose to have children, that will be my decision. If this does occur, I will still have a career, as my mother always did. It is not feasible to live and raise a family on one income, unless that one income is substantial. There is also the rising issue of birth control. Outlawing it or making it unavailable to women is absolutely ridiculous. There are too many people as it is who have children that they cannot afford. Outlawing birth control would only add to that problem. In addition to that, birth control is not always used to solely prevent pregnancy. That is the main purpose of it, yes, but there are other benefits to women. I was prescribed a birth control pill to treat and prevent my polycystic ovary syndrome. Without it, I would probably need surgery in the future, which I will not be able to pay for if I cannot buy health insurance. It all comes together.

Gillyan Gowarty
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

How to Get Ian Foley's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto

As a voter, I find only a handful of issues I believe to be firmly perquisite to a candidate garnering my vote in an election.  I try to take a more world-view and look at issues in a big picture form, to determine what really matters in short term, as well as long term. We live in a nation where the priority of issues is non-static, and thus it is important to understand that weight of an issue is contingent upon this natural priority, rather than personal.  Therefore, I find the following to be necessary an elected official.

Foresight


The ability and willingness to compromise short-term public opinion for long-term national gains or solutions. Self sacrifice of elected office in order to fulfill long term constituent needs, as opposed to short term wants, is an admirable trait.

Fiscal Responsibility

Adjunct to the previously mentioned, an elected official must show the willingness to make tough decisions for national solvency for years to come.  He must not only maintain current bridges, but to build ones he will never cross.

Trustee of Government

Elected official should form own opinion based on voter opinions, then act with the best interests of the constituency and the nation. They should act on the true needs of the constituency, nation, and to the extent of their own knowledge, experience and discretion.

National Solvency

The ability to balance ethics, justice, and sovereignty. While an elected official must work for the betterment of the planet, should not promote or act in any way that leads to the destruction of the nation or constituency. Every effort should be made to defend and extend the economic interests and authority of the nation. A compromise against the nation in view of any other purpose contradicts the art of representative government.

Ian Foley
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2014

How to Get Joshua Pellew's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto



As a young voter, and college student certain issues in this upcoming election matter. Mainly job creation, health care, foreign affairs, and now forever increasing fuel prices matter to me the most. The first time I voted in 2008 the issues were about change getting out of these financial deficits that were still currently dealing with. I feel that this upcoming election we voters have a very difficult choice on our hands. Do we stay with our current president who (I feel) has done most of what he can or do we elect a new president (one of the republic candidates) to take control and possibly change things.

Currently the vote on the republic candidates is between Rick Santorum and Mitt Romney and I personally thing neither one of them has a decent plan for changing the current issues that concern me. As a young American currently heading into the job market what jobs will be available to me? Will I be able to get a job in my field willing to pay enough so that I can obtain my own medical insurance, pay back my student loans, and even maintain a living on my own?

This is what I’m afraid of the most. I’m not sure I fully believe in any candidates plan for change in the current administration, I think there should be a complete revamp of congress with people who have experience and some general compassion for not just the middle class but for all people. I am not a strong supporter of anyone of these candidates even though Santorum’s solutions moderately speak to me. I feel he is only winning because his financial contributions and popularity not for his solutions. Although, I am not happy with my choices now that Ron Paul is a “non-factor” in this race but the president’s administration has not completely failed us, we are getting there little by little.

Another issue of mine is the U.S. involvement in foreign affair how we must come to the rescue of every country that is in the mist of civil warfare and spread our democracy, but how can we spread our government when our government is beginning to fail us? I feel the U.S. should stay out of foreign affairs unless issues of genocide and civil war are at stake. The problem is between the uses of Soft power (humanitarianism) vs. Hard power (military). The U.S. should only focus on regional conflict and global security not spending money and sacrificing U.S. personal. With many of my family members as active duty soldiers including my youngest sister, I would hate to see the U.S. involved in matters it has no business in.

Overall, the U.S. and the state it’s in have left me wondering for my future. I’m that who every wins the presidential election knows that in order to restore the country everyone must reach some sort of common ground otherwise I’m moving to Canada.

Joshua Pellew
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

We Can Make A Change! (Mock Speech)


Morning Wilkes University! Young Voters! “We CAN make a change!” Today’s laws and legislatures are decided candidates who ignore and chastise us. But not any longer, we must begin to take action today! Register to vote. We do have a voice and we can make a change!

Organizations like “Rock the Vote” have educated young people as well as registered more young people to vote than any other organization or campaign, including more than 2.5 million young voter registrations in 2008. Majority of states are failing young voters: only 15 states scored above 50%. Now is the time to speak on the nations issues that are affecting us; jobs, healthcare, gay marriage, foreign policies and furthermore the countries deficit that has increased gas prices.

There are millions of your out there that are wondering “Well how can my vote help?” and “I doubt it will change anything.” But how do you know if you’ve never taken interest or even registered to vote. Candidates need us to get elected, without the young vote were just giving people who aren’t interested in our issues the chance to prove that they were right and we DON’T matter in this country.

I believe that a voice heard is better than a voice unsung. Barack Obama won among young voters by 27 points in a head-to-head matchup with John McCain, 60-33%. Obama ran strongly with every segment of the youth vote. We were the reasons why he was elected president. Take a stand today and learn the issues that affect us as young people and even as a country. “Again, We Can Make a Change!”

Join organizations like the League of Young Voter and Rock the Vote, show the older generation that we are the next in line and that there decision about who they elect affect us as well. But, also we have the power to change that by casting our vote when the primary comes around. Voting for those candidates who appeal to our wants and desires for a better America. Because “We Can make a Change!”

Joshua Pellew
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Can you hear us now? A Young Voter's Rally Cry



We are young and we want them to listen. We want them to stop ignoring us. They see us as lazy, inarticulate, and angry. They see us as too apathetic to have our own opinions. When we, the young voter, have many opinions. Opinions about the crippling issues this country now faces, opinions about they, the older politicians and leaders who discount us because they think we have no money, and no power to offer them. But what they don’t know is, we have more power than ever and we are not giving it away.

We are young and we believe in people. More than ever we can communicate with all people all over the world faster than ever before. Through social media we are able to see people’s faces, to see our hopes, our dreams, to see our sorrows, our struggles, to see our lives, and most importantly to see that inside we are all the same. That no one is better than anyone else. That everyone is equal.  Through our time connecting, we also realize that we all want the same thing. We want someone to care. We want our government to care about us once again. We connect with everyone; everyone except our own political leaders who label our innovation as nothing but a fad. While they should be using it to educate themselves about us, as we have educated ourselves. To communicate with us as we have communicated with each other.

We are young and we stand here together today unified, unlike our own government. Our own government that has only become concerned with party lines, lobbyists, and their next paycheck.  Yet they dismiss us, our generation, as the selfish ones. As a bunch of kids who understand nothing. When in fact, we understand the most important thing, what is right and what is wrong. Politicians don’t always understand this or pretend not to. We know it is wrong to judge someone based on their religion, race, or sexuality. We know it is wrong to deny someone their basic rights as a human being because they love someone. We know it is wrong to let people suffer jobless and debt-ridden as congress vacations months out of a year. We know it is wrong to let people die in another land because they don’t have some resource we desire when we have the medical capability to save them. We know it is wrong to spend billions of dollars on killing people, sometimes innocent people, while our own economy is flailing. We know it is wrong to censor our internet, our communication.

We are young and we know it is wrong to lie. To lie about how much money you make. To lie about what you can do for us. To lie about what you have done in the past. Or more often than not, to lie as an excuse for doing something that we know is wrong. We are sick of the lies, not just from politicians, but from the older generations of this country who run our markets and our media. We need someone to tell us the truth not just what we or more likely their donor or political party wants to hear. When we learn the truth we learn reality; and by understanding today’s reality we will have a better ability to improve our future reality. The truth leads to freedom. We know that is right. They are afraid of the truth as they are secretly afraid of us.

We are young and we understand that our future appears dimmer than any American generation before us. Our future, America’s future, is like a lone flashlight running out of battery power in a dark cave. Because they have forgotten about us along with our crippling student loans, our unstable jobless future, our despicably biased education system, our rising oil and food prices, and our inexcusable gender and homosexual discrimination. Yes. It is up to us to change those batteries before that light is gone completely. Together we need to stand- up, we need to make them listen to what is important to us, We need to take action by convincing them to finally take action. Otherwise, we, The United States of America, will be left in darkness.

We are young and we need to tell this country what is right. We will do this by doing what our generation knows best, connecting on social media and forming a united front for young voter awareness. We will take to our Twitter accounts, our Facebook accounts, and our blogs to express our opinions to our many friends and followers at least once every day.  We will use You Tube to send our messages of frustration to our political leaders until they listen. We will flood our congressman’s Inbox with emails about issues we care about until they finally respond. But most importantly we will use our social media to organize as one collective voice that they no longer can avoid. If they continue to put in their earplugs, we will go to their doorstep and ring the bell.


In August, we mobilized united young voters will march at the Republican National Convention. In September, the Capitol building. They cannot hide from us anymore. We will make them have to look at us, to look upon the faces of their people, to look upon the faces of their future.

We are young and we have something to say, we will tell them what we have to say.
We are young and we can make a difference. We will make a difference.
We are young and we are ready.
We are young and we vote.

Sarah Mitrotz
Communication Studies 
Wilkes 2013

Mock Mayer Speech: Honesdale

Citizens of Honesdale, are  you sick and tired of the lack of things to do in this town? Are you sick of all the constant road work being done? Would you like a nicer looking Honesdale? Of course you would. I know I have wanted all these things for as long as I have lived here, which has been 21 years by the way. This is probably a short amount of time compared to most people who have lived here 35 to 45 years or longer. Its time for a change, a change that will make Honesdale a place were people all over Pennsylvania will want to come and visit.

First and foremost the first thing I would like to do as mayor, is re construct all the parks in Honesdale. I remember growing up and playing kick ball in park square, and playing on the monkey bars. I also remember sliding down the big yellow twisty slide and going on the marry-go-round at the old Storbridge school. These are very fond memories I had growing up, and I would like to continue that for the children of Honesdale.

I would like to continue putting trees and flowers throughout main street making Honesdale look better and more appealing to everyone. This will encourage more people to walk down main street and visit our many locally owned stores.

Lastly, I will propose a plan to build a indoor sports complex. This will provide children of all ages to engage in their individual sports all year round, from playing soccer, basketball, football, tennis, ultimate frisbee or just a driving range for golf in the winter. Having this indoor sports complex will bring loads of other sports teams to Honesdale and help boost our economy.

These are just a few ideas I have in the works for Honesdale, and many more to come if I get elected as mayor. As mayor you can bet that I will make Honesdale a proud place to live in and a proud place to call your home. So make Honesdale shine and vote for me as mayor of this town, with a little work, we can make Honesdale a better place for everyone.

Andrew Grandinetti
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

Monday, April 2, 2012

21st Century News: The Colbert Report



I watched "The Colbert Report" to document the coverage of the 2012 GOP Presidential candidates. Stephen Colbert's character on the show is that of a conservative Catholic who always has something to say. But this is done in a satirical way that does not push those beliefs onto his viewers. The main audience that Colbert is aiming towards is young college aged adults who would probably watch "The Daily Show" that is on before this program. Although the show is intended for the younger crowd, my 72 year-old grandmother loves to watch his show and actually agrees with some of the points that he makes.

The main premise of the show is to entertain, it is on Comedy Central. It should not be taken as a hard news show that people should get all their information from. But writing it off as total drivel should not be done either. Other television programs try to showcase themselves as unbiased and as a reliable news source, when they are nothing more than opinion. "The Colbert Report" plays off of this idea by presenting the information in a satirical version of these other shows. While other station show only what they believe in, "The Colbert Report" gathers all the clips and shows how silly the other networks are. Over the weeks of watching the program clips from Fox News, CNN, MSNBC, C-SPAN and articles from The New York Post were used to show the slant from those media sources. I think that by incorporating the different views "The Colbert Report" offers a broader view on issues rather than watching only one of the other networks.

Behind every joke there is some truth, and through watching the program I was actually informed about some events happening in the political world. Some of the guests that Colbert had on his program also provided a sense of information and legitimacy like Christiane Amanpour. She is a well traveled reporter who is well respected by most people and yet she went on "The Colbert Report". Another guest that was on the show was Robert Kagan who is a foreign policy advisor to Mitt Romney. Colbert asked Kagan about what the Obama administration had done in foreign policy, like the death of Bin Laden or al-Gaddafi. Now instead of crucifying either side, Kagan conceded that Obama did well even though he works for Romney.

The main candidates that Colbert talked about were Romney and Gingrich. They were all highlighted and then dragged through the mud over the course of the two weeks. Even Obama was featured on the show as both a positive and a negative. I think that this really showcased what some of the younger Americans think about the presidential race, that it's a joke. An example was when Newt Gingrich was being sued for using The Eye of the Tiger as his theme without getting permission. In retaliation, the original lead singer of Survivor came on and sang Gringrich's book without permission. Colbert then provided that the Washington Post said that 80% of inmates would vote for Gingrich.

Romney was behind Santorum in the polls in Michigan which is Romney's home state. Then the show played an awkward clip of Romney from C-SPAN from campaigning in Michigan. Romney just rambled on about how the trees are the perfect height in Michigan, his love of lakes, and his car knowledge. Colbert then commented on the perfect height of the trees so a person could hang themselves after they lose their home state primary.

Santorum was mentioned less but he was still represented. A "Face the Nation" clip showed Santorum saying that we should be the earth's husband because he claimed that Obama was a radical environmentalist who is a member of a tree hugging theology. Colbert then made a joke about being the earth's husband because we would "be on top as God intended and frack her all night long." Then they played a clip from 2008 of Santorum saying that Satan in attacking the United States alone. Colbert then made an argument that because Satan's eyes are directed only on the US, God must be causes the famines, genocides, and disasters in all the other countries.

In conclusion, I think that "The Colbert Report" presents a more balanced perspective than some other biased media outlets such as Fox News or MSNBC. Young voters have to be exposed to what is happening in the news and if they watch it on a Comedy Central program that is better than being totally uninformed about the world. Now I know that I am extremely cynical and can dissect humor and lies, but others might not and take this show at face value. But there are a lot of people who do the same for other opinion based news shows. Overall I think that the whole political field is a very entertaining arena and Colbert is just capitalizing on it.


Kristina Seiger
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Thursday, March 29, 2012

Get My Vote, Go Green



When I look at a candidate running for President I look for many things, character, policies, and  how well he or she conducts themselves in their public and private lives. These are general things I consider when casting my vote, but one that sticks out to me more than the others is where a candidate stands on the environment and green energy. I think this topic is vastly over looked in this particular election so far. The problems we have with the environment, gas prices, and even electrical power are not going away, they are getting worse, and I think that a candidate running for President should really give this subject their full attention.

Going further into why going green and helping the environment is important, is the fact that if we fix this problem it can help start to fix the rest of the problems in this country. For example, gas prices are only getting higher, and because of this all other items such as food, toys, and the like are all going up in price as well. This is due to the fact that in order for the food and the toys to get to retailers, trucks and other forms of transportation have to get the products to the stores and what does the transportation run on? Gas.


I think a candidate should have a policy that helps fund alternative fuels for automobiles. There are already ideas out there on how to make a alternative fuel car or truck, they just need funding to jump start production. With that funding the alternative fuel industry will grow and with this growth a steady stream of jobs will bloom. Providing more jobs will then help the economy get back to were it should be, at the top leading the world.

I mentioned before that, our country would use more electrical supply, and a way to go about that is clean energy, like wind, hydroelectric, geothermal, and many others. If our country needs more power we do not need more coal powered energy plants, spewing harmful gases into our atmosphere, we need a clean source of power that won't effect nature in anyway. Again I think that the government should start funding of clean energy, giving people money that want to put solar panels on their house or a wind turbine in their backyard, making going green easier on the wallets of people. Doing the same thing for power plants that want to produce cleaner energy as well. If we get more power in this country electricity bills will decrease significantly, or better yet not exist at all because you are powering your own home. Even better still, say it takes 1000watts to power your home, your wind turbine in your backyard is producing 1200watts, which means you have 200 watts to sell to the electric company for a little bit of profit.

Andrew Grandinetti
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013


How to Get Dominick Costantino's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto


Honesty

To get my vote on Election Day, a candidate must have certain qualities. First of all, I want someone who is honest. There are so many politicians who get caught in lies throughout an election campaign. I like and admire candidates who remain true to themselves throughout a campaign and keep their stance on issues the same. I also like a candidate who is down to earth. So many politicians are high class and act like they are better than everyone else. Why should someone with so much wealth be representing a country that is mostly middle class and lower? It’s alright to have money, but I don’t agree with flaunting it. I’m sorry but no one cares how much money you make in a year.

Education

An issue that is very important to me is education. I am a full-time college student and every year my financial aid goes down. We need more funding for higher education. There are so many young Americans in our country who are extremely bright, but just cannot afford to pay for a college education. Education needs to be a priority at all levels. The government needs to make sure there is enough funding so young Americans have a change to compete for jobs with other countries like China. The candidate who I vote for will prioritize education.

Healthcare

Another issue that is important to me is healthcare. I am a supporter of Obama’s current health care plan. Because of his plan, I am covered under my parents insurance until I am 26 years old. I cannot imagine what life would be like without insurance. I had to go to the emergency room in January, and my bill would have been $14,567 if I didn’t have insurance. Who can afford those type of bills? Also, I am considering going to graduate school after Wilkes to further my education. I will be able to go without worrying about healthcare because I am covered for six more years. I will not vote for any of the Republican presidential candidates because they all want a full repeal of “Obama Care.” This issue is extremely important to me and I cannot look past it when voting.

Gas Prices

The price of gas is ridiculous. Pretty soon the American people are not going to be able to drive because gas prices will be so high. For some, the price of gas might be restricting them from going on vacations, paying for prescription drugs, going to the doctors, etc. There is no reason why the price of gas should be as high as it is. From my understanding, a majority of our oil comes from places in the world that we are currently protecting or places that we protected. Since our soldiers are risking their lives to make peace in these countries, we should be able to get oil for hardly anything. Why should the other countries become rich and Americans suffer? If the price of gas keeps on rising, I don’t see how the American economy will ever recover. It really ticks me off that none of the politicians really care about the high price of gas. Just because you are all millionaires and can afford to fill up your tank no problem, doesn’t mean that the average working American can!

Jobs

Since I will be graduating from college in two years, jobs is another important issue for me. So many of our companies have gone overseas. Our government needs to bring these companies back to the United States so that Americans can have jobs. So many Americans want to work, but there is just not enough jobs out there. The government should reward those companies that move their headquarters back to the United States. The government should also reward products that are made in America. A majority of the products we buy are made in China. We all need jobs and a candidate that tries to create millions of jobs will get my vote on Election Day.

Eliminate Political Ads

One thing I cannot stand is political ads. Ever since I was in elementary school, I hated election season because of all the negative and stupid advertisements on television. From an early age I realize how cruel some of these ads are. Throughout my years of education, I learned how much money is spent on a campaign. Sources say that this presidential campaign will cost more than any of them in the past. I think there needs to be a regulation on how much a candidate can spend on a campaign. Billions of dollars are wasted each year just to get elected into a political office. We could do so much good for the world is this money was spent on other things. If we put all the money being spent on this Presidential election towards cancer research, we would have a cure. Millions of Americans would be able to live because there would be a cure to the disease that kills so many mothers, fathers, aunts and uncles. We could also feed, clothe, and house every single homeless person in America with all the money that is spent. We should start thinking about making this world a better place and stop with all this nonsense of advertisements that promote negativity. Our country could be a great place if individuals had different priorities.

Dominick Costantino
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

How to Get David Cook's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto


I Am Not A Pawn

Treat me not as a pawn in some larger game, but as a human being, capable of knowing what is best for me. I do not want, expect, or desire you to tell me what is best for my life, and I under no circumstances, want you to pretend like you know what life is like for me, or anybody else besides yourself.

You see, I get it. Politicians cannot really relate to the majority of the American public, and that’s okay with me, because I do not want an average run of the mill American who thinks that Survivor is really an unscripted television event determining what country we need to enter into military conflict with. So, please, just demonstrate that you are an above average citizen by being honest about whom you really are. I know, this is an unusual concept, but being human and being self-aware is important.

Economic Issues

Talk honestly and openly about the economic problems in this country, and worry more about resolving them than being reelected. Short term change is not going to get this country  moving forward, we need long term plans, which undoubtedly, are not going to be very popular. But, we need them. Somewhere, you know this to be true, so come out and say it, and then stick to it.  Also, I get it, the economy is in terrible shape, but; for the love of God and Country, do not take the easy rhetorical strategy and blame the other side. Both parties brought us into this—and so did the entire American public, as we ran up credit card debt for the last 20 years. So, take a real stance on the economy and have a plan that really tries to accomplish something. The thing is, I don’t even care if I disagree fundamentally with your politics, as long as you can demonstrate a real long term plan that will move this country forward, with the promise of ‘trying’ and not guaranteed success.

Take notice of that, too. Do not talk to me like you know your plans will work, or that you have some sense of omnipotence, which proves only your economic recovery plan is of any merit or is the only one with guaranteed success. The economy has never worked that way, and neither can an economic recovery plan, so, just be honest about it.

Work Together

Reach across the Aisle and work on legislation which helps the country, not the party. Democracy dies when we refuse to listen, think, and solve problems together. So, come out and speak against the people in your party who alienate, who denigrate, who postulate that the country is in trouble because of the ‘respectable senator’ from the other party.  More than ever, this country needs unity—do something about it.

David Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

On The Quest For Truth: The Internet

This is the internet in visual representation.
Fundamentally, the internet opened the gateway to truth-seekers and news gatherers by allowing us to seek out information from sources directly—allowing us to construct our own opinions from facts. Undoubtedly, this is why younger generations flock to the internet for their news; it has a reputation for ‘truth.’ The thing is, though, you need to look for that truth.

To highlight the problem, consider this blog posting. I am here, discussing, without a shadow of a doubt, my opinion of the growing concern over people who treat opinion as news, and truth as something which must exist because it is simply published online somewhere. However, without this disclaimer, and with a slightly different approach to my first paragraph, I could easily pass on what I am saying for news-truth. From there, if I can gather web traffic, I will find myself on the top page of a Google search, and next thing you know I’m being cited in some political argument, all without any of the credentials which would legitimize me as a news source. But of course, in writing this, I answer to no editors, and there are no fact-checkers looming over me, making sure what I have to say is fair and accurate, (and balanced).

This brings us to the great problem of our time—those who seek out ideologically congruent opinions of ‘news,’ and consume only those sources.  Seeking out alternative viewpoints is necessary in the construction and development of ideas, and is how we, as human beings, achieve. If, in a proper debate, one fails to listen to the opposition, he or she gains nothing, but simply loses out on an opportunity to learn and grow. Even if at the end of it all, you still disagree with what the other side had to say, you learned more about their side, making it easier for you to argue against it. The more you listen, the better your own arguments sound, and eventually, you might even think for yourself—because, let’s be honest here, there is nothing worse than a person who spews the same ideology word for word, that was on some crazy website or radio talk show, without having any idea what it really means or comes down to. And we all know at least one of those people; the person who adores Obama like the sun without knowing what he’s done, or the Republican who thinks Obama is the devil without knowing any political decision he’s made.

If increased ignorance was the biggest problem we had from all of this, I wouldn’t be concerned. The real problem is delineation from open dialog in the political realm. We already see it in Congress, as both sides refuse to work together—not because there isn’t common ground, but because one side needs to be correct. As we move forward, and my generation begins to enter politics, or in the least, begins co have an influence on politicians, this fissure will only continue to grow. What kind of world will we live in if we truly believe we can simply ignore anybody who ever told us ‘no.’

David Cook
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2012

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

How to Get Mikel Hartsough's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto


A candidate attempting to become an elected official needs to take a stand on several issues for me to even consider him to have potential. He or she must also be fairly sincere and  speak with unrehearsed rhetoric. A personal issue is the first one that comes to mind, one of the reasons I didn’t vote for Hillary Clinton is her stand against video games. She compared them to tobacco and alcohol, and considered them to be extremely dangerous. A candidate needs to stay away from my music, movies, and videogames. There is already a rating system in place, Hillary just emulated Nancy Reagan to gain some press, not to defend something she believed in. A politician must endorse stem cell research, make no reference to his religion, and regard education as a top priority.  I like a candidate who doesn’t always side with his political party, it shows they care about the issue more than a win for their affiliation.

Then I get to the essentials, I don’t think we should be involved at all in the middle east, our healthcare system still needs to be reformed, and the economy can’t fix itself at this point.  Immigration needs to be regulated more fiercely, I feel that young adults and high-school kids take priority over illegal immigrants in the hard labor job market. Gay marriage is not a high topic of interest to me, but if a candidate is strongly against it I question his priorities. I don’t think that gay marriage should be a high priority in politics, the reason it gets so much attention in this country is because of the religious aspect, and how many religions consider it an abomination, it is not an issue that a government should be concerned with.

Education needs to be regulated more so than it is now, but carefully. Standardized testing can be effective, but not in all scenarios. I believe the ability of a teacher should be judged by their peers and students, not by government and parents. Privatized schools should not receive any kind of federal funding, public schools should take priority over them. The prep school I went to showed no signs of needing funds, the school expanded every year, and tuition increased with its popularity. Granting the school I went to extra funds would not be money well spent. School administrators should be given the same salary as teachers. Lastly when the government deems it necessary to make budget cuts, education should be the last thing that comes to mind.

When a candidate uses devil and god terms to win over an audience, he loses my vote. When the argument comes down to left or right wing agenda, I stop listening. I feel as if too many politicians treat their job as if it’s a win or lose scenario, and don’t concentrate on the people’s best interests.


Mikel Hartsough
Communication Studies 
Wilkes 2013

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Human Rights are Non-Negotiable



As a voter, my major concerns reside in policies that deal with human rights.  Whether it be women’s rights, ethnic rights, or anything else that affects the personal choices of a minority group, I believe everyone should be treated the same.  All of this being said, the one issue that I will not budge on is gay rights.  If a politician disagrees on my beliefs pertaining to this subject, there is no chance of them getting my vote.  Gay rights include many different things.  First, and most importantly, is the gay marriage issue that has been truly plaguing the gay rights movement for many years now.  I believe that gay marriage should be legalized in the United States, period.  For some this is a religious issue, and for others it is a benefits issue.  For me it is both.  If gay people were allowed to get married, they would be able to enjoy the same financial benefits that straight couples receive.  This includes everything from health benefits to Medicaid.  For other gay couples, they simply want their love and their commitment to be acknowledged by God.  Many gay people are Christians who believe that God does not discriminate the way extremist Christians say he does.  For me, God is love, and any love I have is a gift from Him and a gift back to Him.

Gay rights also include the right to adopt children.  Many times, the argument is used that a child cannot grow up properly without a mother or a father.  However, there are millions of children who are raised by single parents and do not know the other.  Does that mean the single parent should lose their child?  This argument does not make any sense.  Again, love is love.  If a gay couple has the ability to bring a child into their home and treat the child the way it deserves to be treated, then it does not matter that the parents are the same sex.  It is better to let the child be taken care of by two parents of the same sex than remain on a list to be adopted.

If a politician disagrees with any of the above, then it would be an absolute miracle that they would receive my vote.  Being a gay man, this is a very core issue.  When people try to tell me I cannot get married because God thinks I am an “abomination,” then I am completely turned off.  They may have the greatest economic plan, national security plan, and immigration plan ever thought up.  However, their cases will fall upon deaf ears if they do not view me as a person who deserves the same things everyone else has.

Trevor Kurtz
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013

How to Get Mike Dargatis's Vote: A Young Voter Manifesto



In order for one of this year’s presidential candidates to receive my vote, there are several issues and core beliefs I would like for them to focus on. Being a young voter, and this being the first election I’m really involved in, I’d like the candidate that will be receiving my vote to follow certain guidelines that are important to me.

The number one quality I look for in a candidate, regardless of issues, is being relatable. I want a candidate that I feel has my best interests in mind, for the reason that they can understand where people like me are coming from. I also want my candidate to be for the common man, not a typical wealthy politician who is not very concerned with the common man.

As for issues for this upcoming election, there are a few that concern me as a young voter.

Jobs

Obviously as a college student close to graduation, I am concerned about the job market upon entering the work force. With unemployment at such a high rate, and young college graduates not getting jobs at this time, I need a candidate who will make sure young college students will have a better chance at a good job upon graduation.

Student Loans/Federal Aid

Another important issue for young collegiate voters is concerning the incredibly high amount of money students have to owe upon graduation. I want a candidate who is concerned about these high amounts of money students are owing, and who will fight to produce a more efficient system for people to go to college affordably.

Economy

Obviously, the economy as a whole is one of the primary issues in this year’s election. Our nation is currently in an unstable state as for as economics goes, so I need a candidate who is focused on turning the country around to reach prosperity once again.

Mike Dargatis
Communication Studies
Wilkes 2013