The Countdown Begins
October 22, 2008
Filed under The Plug
By JOEL R. PARAMO
Editor in chief
A shift in the air seems to be turning Kern County into a much more democratic place. According to Bakersfield College Communication Professor Helen Acosta, democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama has a focused message, which is “a message that’s focused on solving the problems people see in their own lives.”
Kern County Democratic Headquarters is optimistic about the upcoming election, but Chairman Candi Easter remembers that anything can happen in the last weeks of the race.
“A lot of excitement has been generated by Obama. We’ve been registering a record number of people to vote. At the fair we registered 1,000 where we’d normally only register about 200 new democrats,” said Easter. “We’re not going to stop. We’re going to keep working till the polls close on Nov. 4.”
Last weekend, nearly 17,000 local households were visited in support of the democrats. Local supporters have never seen in the past the enthusiasm that they’re seeing in this election.
“People are mad at what’s happened to America,” said Easter. “They are ready for new politics and leadership in the White House. ”
Bakersfield has a really strong environment for democrats according to phone bank coordinator Tom Webster.
“This town has always been a lot more liberal than we appear to be,” he said. “In the last four months, we’ve registered over 7,000 new democratic voters.”
Acosta, who has been teaching at BC for 13 years, has also noticed a shift in students’ political views.
“We used to see 60 to 70 percent of students as conservative,” said Acosta. “I’ve seen a complete flip. Students are becoming more progressive than before.”
In a normally republican area, it has been observed that conservative Bakersfield has become balanced with the liberal.
“Every vote counts. It doesn’t matter whether or not it’s a blue county or red. We had a huge rally in the park, about 1,000 people were there,” Easter said. “Bakersfield is turning a nice shade of purple.”
According to Webster, major changes are occurring by districts, and what he’s seeing is a lot of county seats that are changing their republican views.
“People are moving parties,” said Webster. “What you’re seeing is lots of people that have not voted for 10 to 15 years registering again and coming into our office. I just registered a 52-year-old woman who will be voting for her first time. People have a candidate they can identify with and stand behind.”
Currently, Acosta has noticed that students are paying much more attention to the “big problems” of the country, especially when it comes to the economy.
“The economy issues hit us faster,” she said. “We have huge gaps: from extreme poverty and then the people who live dramatically beyond their means.”
According to Acosta, who recently spoke with a member from Habitat For Humanity, Bakersfield has so many vacant homes that no one should have to build a new one until the year 2011. She feels that the economy and the campaign both parties are leading play a huge role in the shift to more progressive points of view.
“Right now, republicans are doing what they accuse the democrats of doing: attacking with no solution,” said Acosta. “Barack Obama has provided a steady influence and has stayed with his core message with looking to our better angels. He’s focused on what’s good instead of constantly tearing down the other side.”
Not only did local democrats register in large numbers, headquarters are now having trouble keeping up with providing the posters to support the campaign.
“We’ve seen a huge participation this election. Over 3,500 yard signs have been distributed all over the county,” said Easter. “We’ve sold all of them, and we still have people coming in at least every 15 minutes looking for them.”
By BIANCA HERNANDEZ
A candidate with experience appears to be what is setting Sen. John McCain apart from his rival. The republican nominee will face off against Sen. Barack Obama Nov. 4 for the office of president of the United States of America.
Scott Raab, the Kern County coordinator for John McCain, said that McCain represents working with the other side.
This election has been hyped as one of the most important elections to take place in our lifetime, and people appear to have taken notice of that idea. “A lot of people came out for the first time,” said Raab of this election. He went on to say that voter turnout and volunteer turnout were both up. Raab commented that there weren’t just new voters, but people who had not voted for many years. He also said that the voter registration in Kern County was record breaking.
“I look at it from an experience perspective,” said Kayo Anderson, 18, of why she is leaning toward voting for McCain. McCain has served on the U.S. Senate since 1986.
According to his website, McCain’s economic plan will not only create more jobs, but it will also support small business, help families, improve healthcare, even out taxes and create cheaper and more efficient forms or energy.
The addition of Gov. Sarah Palin to the ticket appears to have had a positive effect on the campaign, according to Raab. Of Palin, Raab said that though she is not the most popular republican, “She puts country first before our party.”
He also said that she has helped to energize the party, and she represents what McCain wants for the future of the party. “Palin has 80 percent approval rating,” said Raab.
“I think Palin is a great speaker, and she really represents what I would like to see in politicians,” said Chase Timmons, 20.”In my opinion, America doesn’t need more corrupt government to be involved in every part of everyone’s life, and I would like to see the current corruption taken care of.”
According to Raab, Palin has fought against corruption in her home state.
Raab also said that he felt Hillary Clinton’s loss in the primary, and Obama’s choice of Sen. Joe Biden for his vice presidential candidate instead of Clinton has helped bring her supporters over to McCain.
“McCain is pretty comfortably the underdog,” said Raab,
In the end, Raab feels that McCain will win, but that the election will be close: “within 20 or 30 electoral votes.”
“I think McCain will do well because he’s telling the truth,” said Raab.
“I think the election will, unfortunately, turn out very close, but I have no idea who will win,” said Timmons.
“What it all comes down to is his experience, knowledge and judgment,” said Raab.
No matter who wins, Raab feels that there will be a lot of domestic challenges facing whoever wins in November.
Anderson urged people to really look into the candidates themselves, and vote for the candidate “whose going to make a difference in your life.”