Oberlin Blogs

Obama-rama in Ohio

September 24, 2008

Alice Ollstein ’10

Election madness is upon us! With Ohio and the nation in a basic dead heat, student efforts on campus have been ramped up, and everyone from eager freshman to President Marvin Krislov is getting a piece of the action. Last night, I volunteered at the Democratic headquarters in town, making phone call after phone call to voters in Ohio urging them to vote for Obama. The office itself was inspiring: local high schoolers, college students and retired townspeople bonding together to make a difference. Yet the phonebanking was a bit discouraging. I got a lot of "Don't call me again!" and "I'm not interested, thanks" but I did get some die-hard Obama supporters who I had promise to vote and vote early, and I also got some undecideds who I feel like I really convinced.

Oberlin is definitely living up to its reputation of a politically active college. A lot of my friends are canvassing every weekend in nearby towns, and on-campus, students go door to door in dorms and camp out outside the library and dining halls to register all students to vote. This Thursday, our college president himself is testifying before Congress on the importance of student voting. So students of America, stand up and be counted!

Now, contrary to rumor, there are Republicans at Oberlin. Enough, in fact, to have the clout to bring one of the most famous Republicans alive--Newt Gingrich--to campus on the 24th. With his role in the 1994 "Republican Revolution" I'm sure it will make for a spicy lecture and an even spicier Q & A. Though tickets were free, I unfortunately have to work at the newspaper tonight and therefore cannot attend. However, you can read all about it in the next Oberlin Review. We're even getting an interview with him!

The political events both on-campus and nearby have been overwhelming. On Saturday night we're getting Adrian Fenty, the mayor of D.C. and a former Obie, to speak. Last week, the comedy troupe Second City performed a political piece called "Deface the Nation." And both Obama, Biden and Hillary have given talks around here, spurring many Obies to carpool out to see them. I myself saw Obama in Dublin, OH, and it was pretty inspiring to see Ohioans of every race, age and background pack in to cheer for him.

Yet there have been upsetting things about this election: the fact that some Hillary supporters are switching to McCain, that the media covers the candidates' wives more than their policies and that almost no one is talking about the looming climate crisis. Frustrated that the candidates have been almost silent on my most important election issue, the environment, I wrote this for the Oberlin Review.

So yes, while it's easy to feel helpless in the great red-and-blue tide sweeping across the country, and it's easy to feel that my measly vote won't make a difference, I'm doing what I can with volunteering and writing articles so when someone (a grandchild, perhaps?) asks me what I did during the 2008 election, I won't have to sheepishly admit that I sat on my butt.

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