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Kerry Stumps at ISU to Urge Student Political Action

by Pamela Leavey

John Kerry was in Iowa yesterday, speaking at ISU, urging students to get out the vote in the upcoming mid-term elections. The quips below from the Des Moines Register highlight Kerry’s ability to connect with the youth. Obviously students at ISU were thrilled to have Kerry there speaking on issues. I witnessed a similar phenomena when he was speaking at Pepperdine University in Malibu recently.

Scott Bents attended Iowa State University in the 1990s, during a time of economic prosperity and political apathy.

Now a graduate student, Bents, 31, said he would never have imagined what unfolded Monday on campus: Students swarmed around Massachusetts Sen. John Kerry to hear him speak about the environment, activism and the war in Iraq.

“I think it’s changed,” Bents said.

Monday kicked off Political Action Week at ISU, a series of lunchtime speeches from local, state and national leaders on an array of topics, from whether students are treated as second-class citizens in Ames to the role of religion in politics.

Students stood in a line Monday for free hamburgers and potato chips before Kerry, a Democrat, spoke. Many lifted cell phones to take photographs of the former presidential nominee while he spoke.

Mark Mba, a graduate student from West Africa, said he believes students are too apathetic and will not mobilize for change unless their way of life is threatened.

“People are living comfortable lives,” said the 23-year-old Mba. “If you know there is nobody threatening your ability to get online, to socialize and have a good time, you don’t care about people who are dying in other parts of the world.”

Kerry tried to rally students to get involved in the political process. He also expressed concern about the direction of the country under the Republican administration.

“If young people – too many who know better – refuse to vote, we’re in big trouble,” he said.

3 Responses to “Kerry Stumps at ISU to Urge Student Political Action”

  1. I used to think exactly like Mba states above. But then I started reading more about the 1960’s.

    From what I gather, the ’60’s were the most prosperous times for “white america”. Factories were running full-bore, we were able to finance the Great Society, accelerate the space program to the point of landing on the moon, fight the Cold war, fight in Vietnam (a dollarcost that I would bet makes Iraq look small in comparison), and fund development all over the world.

    During this time, there was probably more demand and interest for social change and redirection than at any time in our country’s history. I’m sure everyone posting here can easily list dozens of things that students like those above addressed during this time.

    My conclusion: people are much more like ly to “change the world” when they’ve got a stable job, health care, housing, and a quality education. IMHO when they don’t have all the basic needs they do not have the energy or motivation to stand up and fight for others; they’re too busy trying to save themselves.

  2. Ooops, forgot to explain myself on the above “white america” comment. At that point the civil rights movement was just kicking in and although great changes were taking place and making it better I am not sure that these people could consider the 60’s as prosperous.

  3. Javelin,

    I agree. Look at two of the most significant leaders in human rights in the 20th century: Ghandi and King. Both came out of middle class backgrounds and went on to get graduate degrees. Then they turned the world a tad faster than it would have without them.