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The 2008 Presidential Election welcomes a whole new generation of voters, including myself.

Surprise! These teens are tuned in

The 2008 Presidential Election welcomes a whole new generation of voters, including myself. This election, like many Presidential races of the past, is mired in controversy. With both sides contradicting each other and reckless claims flying across the board, it's hard for young, inexperienced voters to know where the candidate's stands on all the issues. Curious to find out what young voters believe about each candidate and even more, what each candidate actually stands for, I talked to two young voters and did some research of my own.

Last month, I wrote about which issues ring a bell with teens for the election. Following up on those findings, I talked to Carly Matthiesen and Alex Pups -- both from Menomonee Falls and both 18 years old -- about each candidate's view on the economy/taxes and the war in Iraq. Of course, in order to be fair, each side has a voice. Matthiesen is more liberal, while Pups leans more towards the conservative side.

The economy is the hot button issue of the election right now. Everyone is talking about a recession and how the economy is failing, and everyone is looking to the Presidential nominees to solve the problems.

"Obama is going to give the middle class a tax break. He will tax the rich more to help the blue-collared workers and families of America," said Matthiesen. She also stated that she believes he's going to make the stock market and corporations keep an open book for the public to see, as well as say no to offshore drilling.

Alex disagrees with what Matthiesen says. "I like how Obama wants to renegotiate NAFTA, but he will raise taxes. His voting record has shown he will. His 'middle class' is for people who make between $31,000 and $49,000. He will raise taxes for those who make over a certain amount of money, and that isn't right because they have worked just as hard for their money too."

Apparently, these "uninformed teens" have been paying attention...

According to Obama's website, he plans to give tax breaks to the "low and middle class" though the site never specifies what the low to middle class range is. He does want to reconstruct NAFTA to protect and help workers and provide an emergency $1,000 rebate to all families. He plans a $50 billion "Jumpstart" to the economy that would help create and save jobs and help states prevent cutting programs involving education, housing, and healthcare.

"I believe that John McCain will continue to help the rich of this country. He will send more jobs overseas and make the middle class work harder than they already do," said Matthiesen. She continued, saying that lobbyists run his campaign and will make sure he won't pass bills to give the middle class tax cuts.

"When McCain said that the economy was fine, I believe he was taken out of context," insisted Pups. "He means that there are parts of the economy that are fine and others that need fixing." Pups said that McCain wants to lower taxes and has voted to do so in the past.

On McCain's website, he to keep taxes low, and that includes changing the gas tax, as well as doubling the deduction of dependants for families to $7,000. Another way that he wants to help the economy is to freeze government spending for a year to evaluate and review all programs.

The other issue addressed was the war in Iraq. Matthiesen said that Obama "respects that we are in a war." "He won't pull the troops all immediately, he just pull them from Iraq and redirect them to Afghanistan. He will also try to diplomatic about things and try to find solutions with Iraq and the surrounding countries."

"McCain will just continue like Bush," said Matthiesen. "He will continue sending troops without attempting to be diplomatic. In fact, I believe that he would even raise taxes in order to continue to fund the war."

Pups agreed with what Matthiesen said, although not exactly in the same terms. "Obama has a certain timeline in which he will pull the troops. I think that it's stupid to pull out of Iraq so soon and just leave the country to be retaken by Al-Qaeda, Obama wants to use diplomacy, which I believe won't work."

"McCain does want to continue the 'surge,' mainly because it's working. He wants to continue sending troops there and back. He knows that we will be in Iraq for quite a while establishing their government and military force. McCain is experienced in war - he was a POW in Vietnam - and knows what to do with this war."

Like Matthiesen and Pups both stated, Obama is against the surge. He believes that there is no military solution; only a political one. He has a plan set to have a phased withdrawal by the year 2010. Also, like both Matthiesen and Pups said, McCain wants to continue to support the surge and make sure the Iraqi government and economy are stable. He also wants to put pressure on Iran and Syria to leave Iraq alone.

What surprised me is that after researching, I found that both people knew what each candidates stated policies are pretty well. Despite the common perception that young people are oblivious to what's happening in politics, it appears that at least some young people who can vote are paying attention and are working to decide which candidate best suites their preferences and wants as they move into adulthood.

With even young voters paying attention to the issues, this is shaping up to be one of the closest and most interesting elections in our nation's history.


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