SEATTLE — About a dozen UW Young Democrats gathered Tuesday evening to watch the State of the Union address. Encircling the TV in the living room of Katie Bass–the current YDUW president–they chatted, cheered and heckled as the live feed flicked from President Barack Obama to Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels’ Republican rebuttal and then to the Tea Party response.
This year’s SOTU spanned topics from clean energy to a united Congress, all accompanied by helpful charts and graphics. I spoke with a quartet of Young Democrats who offered diverse opinions on the issues addressed.
Katelyn Karcher, a junior political science major and YD executive board member, was pleased to see resolve from the President on raising tax rates on the country’s wealthiest.
“I believe that people are at least on the path to becoming more receptive to the problem of disparity of wealth and taxes,” she said. “I think [the President is] on the right side of that argument.”
Suzanne Scharlock, a freshman intending to double major in business and political science, spoke passionately about the importance of the “re-shoring movement” and Obama’s commitment to it. She was pleased to see companies like Masterlock returning blue collar jobs to American citizens.
Jasmine Palmer, a senior biology major, tuned in for the President’s energy policies and disagreed with his emphasis on natural gas. We should be researching other sources of energy, she said.
Fostering bipartisanship and overcoming “obstructionism” was key to Damen Cook, a freshman expecting to double major in political science and history.
I asked if their support for the President had waned in the past four years. The four maintained their admiration and faith in Barack Obama, but admitted to pessimism and extreme partisan politics taking a toll on their excitement.
Scharlock suggested that the anti-presidential feeling stems from the country’s overall depression. “American citizens are looking for negative things, because we’re in a really bad place right now,” she said.
Cook was quick to point out all the good this administration has accomplished and expressed frustration with the denial of progress across the aisle.
“We’re working on the upswing. We’re improving,” he said. When Republicans say otherwise, they’re disregarding the facts.
Herman Cain’s Tea Party rebuttal–which was the same speech I heard him give in South Carolina last week–was met with laughter and derision from this audience. When Cain declared that “America is broke” and “our debt is a disgrace,” the watch party hostess exclaimed, “Then pay your taxes!”
More than Obama’s character and positions, it seems that the possibility of any of the Republican candidates taking office is what drives these students to take action.
Watching people she feels are not competent enough to run this country try to do so is scary, Scharlock explained. She recalled watching Cain’s interview on Libya and realizing the possible repercussions of electing an uninformed candidate.
“My 12-year-old sister knows more about foreign policy in Libya than Herman Cain,” Karcher chimed in.
The students said they intend to counter the Republican nominee’s rise by talking to their friends, insisting they vote and staying involved in the Young Democrats.
“Events like this do bump up the excitement a little bit,” smiled Palmer.