Why health care matters to me

By Se Kim, 17, Senior writer, Pacifica Christian HS (Santa Monica)
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Se believes teens shouldn’t ignore the election just because they aren’t old enough to vote.

I was 13 years old during the last presidential election. When my teachers had discussions in class about the issues the candidates supported, I didn’t understand what was being said. I thought a new president wouldn’t make a big difference because both candidates were qualified. I figured, it’s America, it’s not like we’re going to turn into a communist country. No matter who is elected, we’ll still have the same values. I remember watching CNN leading up to the election. I was only interested in how the candidates used strategies to win different states. It was more of a game than something important.

This election I realized that I was wrong. A new president does make a big difference. During the close Democratic primary contest between Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, every detail mattered. Throughout this campaign, I’ve been interested in the election. I’ve been talking to my U.S. government teacher outside of class about political strategies, like who will get the most votes based on their personalities. I even blogged about my thoughts on John McCain’s vice presidential pick, Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin. I also watch CNN and the Daily Show with Jon Stewart as much as I can. The Daily Show may be a comedy show, but when they made fun of politics it made some issues clearer to me.

Photo by Anisa Berry, 17,
View Park Prep HS

This election is important because there are so many issues on the line. Global warming could get worse. America could waste billions of more dollars on the Iraq war. The cost of higher education is making it harder for teens to afford college. Even though I can’t vote, all these issues are going to affect me. I hope our new president makes wise decisions about what is really important for our country.

The war costs too much

Whoever is elected will decide how we spend our money. America has spent more than $600 billion on the war in Iraq and analysts projected that by the end, the war will probably cost $1 to $2 trillion, according to an article in The New York Times. When I read that, I was pissed off. That’s a lot of money. It could have been spent in so many better ways. If our next president decides to leave Iraq, a lot of money would be saved. Will it go toward lowering the cost of healthcare for families? And college grants and green energy?

I’m worried that it’s getting harder to pay for college. All my friends complain about the cost of college. My parents have a college fund they set up when I was little. The money covered the cost of college back then. Costs have risen and it’s now enough for only a few years. How will I pay for the other years? I want the next president to set a maximum for how much college tuition should be. In Great Britain it’s about $6,000 a year. The government pays for a lot of the  costs so tuition doesn’t have to be so expensive. I am not advocating $6,000 tuition, but paying more than $30,000 a year is way too much. I know that tuition probably is not going to go down but the candidates should work toward having the federal government provide more financial aid. The amount of aid I get will affect what college I can afford to go to. The cost of college is going up every year and if the government doesn’t offer more grants and loans to students, college will turn into a privilege for the rich.

But how the new president responds to global warming is my most important issue. I want a real government effort to stop global warming. I want to know that my future kids and grandkids will not suffer from scary weather patterns like droughts and scorching heat. More money needs to be invested to develop new types of hybrid cars and wind and solar energy sources. As the Bush administration shows, acknowledging global warming and caring about the environment doesn’t transfer into actual help. Bush says he cares about the issue but he does very little. It seems like it’s all talk and no action.

Politics does affect people’s lives

Last summer, I interned for the Hillary Clinton campaign and as the primaries got close, I started to see the impact this election is having on Americans. For my job, I made phone calls to gather support for Clinton. Once I was on the phone for an hour listening to a single mother who said she needed healthcare for her children. I knew that a lot of Americans were going through the same troubles. I empathized with a father who questioned why his son was risking his life in a pointless war. He asked whether Clinton would be able to pull out our troops. It was sad for me too because it wasn’t just the war we were talking about, it was about a person who was in Iraq and could potentially get hurt. I spent more than an hour talking to him about what Clinton would do as president. I answered a call from an angry man we’d left a voice message with. He said that if Clinton were elected, he would move to France. I saw that people needed a voice and voting is a way of expressing your opinion.

I can’t vote in this presidential election, but because of what is at stake, I’m definitely encouraging others to. At Clinton’s campaign office there was a big pile of voter registration forms. I handed them out to my older friends because of the many issues on the line. My friends took the voter registration forms. I don’t know if they’ll register but I hope they do. If you’re 18, vote. If you don’t, other people are deciding for you and are going to choose what government policies you have to follow.

Even if you can’t vote, you should be informed. You can form an opinion about what you really believe and have a say.

Click here to read …

Compare the candidates. Where the John McCain and Barack Obama stand on the issues.

Making my vote count. First-time voter Fred, 18, wanted to learn as much as he could to form his own opinions about the candidates.

Other stories by this writer …

Saving is priceless. GameCube: $200. Soccer ball and jerseys: $120. Learning how to save money: much more rewarding. (May – June 2008)

It’s in our hands. Once Se, 16, learned about global warming, he realized that we all can do something about it. (September 2007)

I felt their fear. Having survived an armed robbery, Se, 16, felt a strong connection to the people at Virginia Tech. (May – June 2007)

News you can use. Se, 16, didn’t use to care about current events. But when his teacher inspired him to get informed, he discovered that he likes forming his own opinions about what’s going on in the world. (January – February 2007)