Americans set new precedents: Adapting to the next generation

By Lyndsey Hewitt  and Katie Hibbard
Staff Writer                       News Editor

November 8, 2012

Americans decided Obama will sustain his position as Commander in Chief for the next four years. However, the election is only one of several historic events being celebrated now. Also on Tuesday, Colorado and Washington became the first states to legalize recreational use of marijuana, while Maine, Maryland and Washington voted to legalize same-sex marriage, and Wisconsin is now home to the first openly gay senator, Tammy Baldwin (D).

“I think it’s about time,” Mariah  Dunsmore, a senior majoring in criminal justice, said. “The American public has spoken and you can’t ignore a majority vote.”

Election:

While Clinton County was in favor of Mitt Romney, Obama won Pennsylvania as a whole.

The amount of enthusiasm from the 2008 presidential election compared to Tuesday’s was vastly different. In 2008, students across campus were in a frenzy, with the majority supporting Obama’s campaign. This time around, the campus lacked excitement, and only hosted a few voter-registration drives earlier in the semester.

“This election, I felt that there was a lot more indifference in the student body. I talked with a couple of students about it and many students felt that either their vote did not count or they blamed not being informed about politics,” Josh Peacock, a super-senior studying political science and history, said. “In 2008 it seemed as if everyone made themselves aware of the issues or at least had an opinion.”

“I feel that young people are starting to miss the connection between the people we elect and the environment we enter when we graduate,” he added.

Despite the lack of apparent eagerness around campus, many students showed excitement in exercising their right to vote.

Judith Belfleur, a senior majoring in criminal justice, was the first in line at East Campus at 6:45 a.m. to cast her vote for Obama.

Wearing an Obama shirt and hat, she exclaimed “Freedom!” as she left the poll.

“I voted for Obama because he supports my rights as a woman, and helps me afford school,” she said.

“I was excited to vote because it was my first time, walking into the voting booth was exciting and new,” Travis Deaver, a senior majoring in early childhood education, said. “I voted for Romney because I really felt like he could help the country by bringing us closer out of debt, and also help small businesses succeed.”

Whichever way students voted Tuesday, Obama won his second term. Here are some ways his continued presidency could benefit students.

  • Student Debt: Obama pledged to increase grant funds and lower interest rates. He also plans to increase the maximum federal Pell Grants offered. Furthermore, Obama is a supporter of loan forgiveness. He has a plan that forgives the loan balance of former students who have made 20 years of steady payments.
  • Immigrant Education: Obama is pro-DREAM Act: this act allows for undocumented immigrants to seek citizenship by attending and graduating from college or by serving in the military.
  • Marriage Equality: Obama has publicly announced his belief that two people of the same gender should be allowed to marry. Using his influence, further LGBTQ rights may be advanced.
Legalization of Marijuana:

The legalization of marijuana in both Washington state and Colorado comes with a catch: the drug can only be legally sold to and used by those who are 21 and older.

Despite the catch, many people are looking at this as a step in the right direction.

“Legalizing pot was a good decision because its sales can now be taxed and regulated,” Spencer Myers, a sophomore English lit major, said.

Not everyone thinks recreational marijuana use is a great idea, however.

“Government, at any level, should not be peddling drugs to its citizens. Especially a psychoactive drug that is bound to have a long-term detrimental effect on, overall, bodily and societal health,” John Vitale, a senior communication major, said.

The pros of marijuana according to norml.org:

Saving tax dollars:
Enforcing marijuana prohibition costs taxpayers an estimated $10 billion annually and results in the arrest of more than 750,000 individuals per year — far more than the total number of arrestees for all violent crimes combined, including murder, rape, robbery and aggravated assault.

It’s a safe recreational drug:
Marijuana is far less dangerous than alcohol or tobacco. Around 50,000 people die each year from alcohol poisoning. Similarly, more than 400,000 deaths each year are attributed to tobacco smoking. By comparison, marijuana is nontoxic and cannot cause death by overdose.

According to the prestigious European medical journal, The Lancet, “The smoking of cannabis, even long-term, is not harmful to health…It would be reasonable to judge cannabis as less of a threat… than alcohol or tobacco.”

Hemp production:
Hemp produces a much higher yield per acre than do common substitutes such as cotton and requires few pesticides. In addition, hemp has an average growing cycle of only 100 days and leaves the soil virtually weed-free for the next planting.

Various parts of the plant can be utilized in the making of textiles, paper, paints, clothing, plastics, cosmetics, foodstuffs, insulation, animal feed and other products.

Homosexuality:

Ten states now allow same-sex marriage. While many states still strongly prohibit same-sex marriage, several are in the midst of reforming current regulations and ideals.

“I’m happy they legalized gay marriage and I hope more states do the same,” Brittni Furman, a sophomore majoring in early childhood education and who is an active member of LHU’s Gay-Straight Alliance, said. “It needs to be legalized in more states. We’re not causing any harm.”

Though some may be unhappy about these changes, there are about 650,000 gay couples in America, according to Fox News’s website, who would call this gesture progress.

Another part of this step forward is Wisconsin’s election of America’s first openly-gay senator.

“I didn’t run to make history,” Tammy Baldwin said in her victory speech. “I ran to make a difference, a difference in the lives of families struggling to find work and pay the bills.”

The information in this article was culminated from the following websites: chicagotribune.com, complex.com, collegecandy.com, and dailyfinance.com.

Lyndsey Hewitt is a communication major graduating this December and can be contacted at lhewitt2@lhup.edu.

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