4 National Service supporters in 4 early nominating contest winners

Posted by aaronjmarquez on January 9, 2008

As young voter turnout – unseen since 1968 – continues to play an important role in the complex plot that is Election ’08, New Hampshire Primary winners U.S. Senator John McCain (R-AZ) and U.S. Senator Hillary Clinton (D-NY) join Iowa Caucus winners Governor Mike Huckabee (R-AR) and U.S. Senator Barack Obama (D-IL) as the four candidates (arguably) best poised to not only secure their party’s nomination and become the next President of the United States, but also expand National Service before the end of their first term.

According to the Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning & Engagement (CIRCLE), 37% of eligible New Hampshire citizens under the age of 30 participated in yesterday’s New Hampshire Primary. The youth turnout rate rose sharply to 43% in 2008 compared to 18% in 2004 (with a contested race only for Democrats) and 28% in 2000 (with contested races for both Democrats and Republicans). An estimated 18% of total Democrat Primary voters and 14% of total Republican Primary voters were between the ages of 18-29, making them an important group of voters that must be taken seriously by both parties’ campaigns.

This morning on Democracy Now!, host Amy Goodman dug deeper on the Democratic race with University of New Hampshire professor Dante Scala and Granite State media maven Arnie Arnesen.

AMY GOODMAN: Last night when she gave her acceptance speech, she wasn’t standing next to Madeleine Albright, the former secretary of state under her husband, President Bill Clinton, and on the other side, Bill Clinton himself, sort of the old guard; she was standing against a backdrop of kids. What about the significance of this? And how important was that young vote for both Barack Obama and for Hillary Clinton? Talk about how it broke down around the state. Didn’t Barack Obama end up speaking near—was it Dartmouth?

DANTE SCALA: Well, I think what we saw last night was—again, kind of along gender lines—is that a lot of young women in New Hampshire see Hillary Clinton as a role model. Their moms probably see Hillary Clinton as a role model.

ARNIE ARNESEN: And the other thing is, Dante, that the reason why she was surrounded by all these young people is she now looked at where Obama thought he had his asset, and she is saying to Obama, “I’m going right after that youth. That’s not yours. Don’t assume you own it. Don’t assume you’re the only one that can invite it in.” And she—I mean, this—it’s a brilliant strategy.

ARNIE ARNESEN: Then she goes after that youth vote. Who owned that youth vote? Barack Obama. Now Hillary Clinton, with that montage behind her of young people, she is now attempting to own that. This is a brilliant political strategy.

On the Republican side, Senator McCain spoke of his passion for public service in his victory speech:

Tonight, we have taken a step, but only the first step toward repairing the broken politics of the past and restoring the trust of the American people in their government. The people of New Hampshire have told us again that they do not send us to Washington to serve our self-interest, but to serve theirs.

They don’t send us to fight each other for our own political ambitions, but to fight together our real enemies. They don’t send us to Washington to stroke our egos, to keep this beautiful, bountiful, blessed country safe, prosperous and proud. They don’t send us to Washington to take more of their money and waste it on things that add not an ounce to America’s strength and prosperity. They don’t help a single family realize the dreams we all dream for our children, that don’t help a single displaced worker find a new job, and the security and dignity it assures them, that won’t keep the promise we make to young workers that the retirement they have begun to invest in will be there for them when they need it.

They don’t send us to Washington to do their job, but to do ours. My friends, I didn’t go to Washington to go along to get along or to play it safe to serve my own interests. I went there to serve my country. And that, my friends, is just what I intend to do if I am so privileged to be elected your president.

I salute the supporters of all the candidates who worked so hard to achieve a success tonight and who believe so passionately in the promise of their candidate. And I want to assure them that though I did not have their support, and though we may disagree from time to time on how to best advance America’s interests and ideals, they have my genuine respect, for they have worked for a cause they believe, is good for the country we all love, a cause greater than their self-interest.

My friends, I learned long ago that serving only one’s self is a petty and unsatisfying ambition. But serve a cause greater than self- interest and you will know a happiness far more sublime than the fleeting pleasure of fame and fortune. For me, that greater cause has always been my country, which I have served imperfectly for many years, but have loved without any reservation every day of my life.

Senator McCain introduced legislation after 9/11 to expand AmeriCorps from 70k to 250k members. He often speaks to the importance of National Service on the campaign trail as part of his stump speech, though he has yet to clearly outline a comprehensive plan.

Senator Clinton announced at Plymouth State University her support for increasing Eli Segal Education Award from $4,725 to $10,000 for each year of National Service, expanding AmeriCorps by 100k members, and making it easier for military veterans to serve upon their return from active duty overseas.

Governor Huckabee has pledged to expand AmeriCorps to 170k members by the end of his first term as President. He is also a big supporter of arts in the schools, suggesting that the Music National Service initiative might prove to be one of the bold, new ideas for his campaign embrace.

Senator Obama is the only one of the four winners yet to release a comprehensive plan or give a major policy address on National Service, which he gave before the Iowa Caucus. He calls for doubling the Peace Corps and expanding AmeriCorps to 250k members.

One thing is for certain… young people are voting and candidates will need to respond if they want to stay competitive. Those who have proven themselves in these early nominating contests – on both sides of the aisle – have embraced National Service. Who will step up their campaign platforms on the issue and who else will be the next to come on board as a way to unite the 18-29 year old demographic?


3 Responses to “4 National Service supporters in 4 early nominating contest winners”

  1. Latest Youth Service Election News Featured by…

  2. A. Dupin said

    Great post, Matt. I never tire of hearing people discuss the importance of education in America. It’s definitely a subject that’s overlooked all too often, both by the candidates and by the media (and by John Q. Public at times).

    On Monday I plan to attend Sen. Barack Obama’s rally in Carson City, and hope that he addresses education (as well as its connection to public service) in his speech. I’ll post on Wednesday with all of the details.


    A. Dupin

  3. Daniel said

    I couldn’t understand some parts of this article 4 National Service supporters in 4 early nominating contest winners, but I guess I just need to check some more resources regarding this, because it sounds interesting.

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