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Teens share their thoughts about the political primaries

Illustration by Sage Chung, L.A. Youth archives

We asked the teen staff of L.A. Youth to share their thoughts on the California primaries, Super Tuesday and the presidential candidates. We’d like to hear from other teens, too. Do you agree with an L.A. Youth writer? Disagree? How do you feel about the presidential race? Go to the bottom of the page and post a comment.

After a long search of the issues, I’m supporting Clinton

Although I was not 18 on Super Tuesday (my birthday was five days after), my vote would have gone to either Barack Obama or Hillary Clinton. Deciding between the two Democratic candidates is very difficult. I decided early on, after looking into each candidate’s policies, that I was not a Republican. The difficult part came when I realized that Clinton and Obama’s policies are a lot alike.
    At one point, my uncle told me that Obama wanted to get rid of CAFTA (Central American Free Trade Agreement) while Clinton didn’t. At first I thought that this was finally my chance to make a decision because CAFTA seemed like a great thing. CAFTA allows free trade between the United States and Central American countries, such as El Salvador (where my family is from), Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic, Guatemala, Honduras and Nicaragua. I think it would help restore their economies so that people will want to stay in their native countries instead of immigrating to the United States.
    Sadly, I was misinformed and later learned that both Obama and Clinton were against CAFTA because they believe it would lead to more U.S. workers being laid off and replaced by Central American workers who will work for cheaper wages.
    I was confused once again. Then I found out that Obama approves of driver’s licenses for illegal immigrants while Clinton does not. But I think this issue is less important than others. The only other issue I could find was healthcare. Clinton has proposed universal healthcare, which I oppose because I don’t think the U.S. can afford it.
    However, I oppose Obama’s proposal to give money to people who lost their homes to foreclosure to help them get back on their feet. I don’t think the entire economy should have to pay for the mistakes of individuals who couldn’t figure out that they wouldn’t be able to afford their mortgage payments. Where would the money come from? More taxes on middle-class citizens? Something has to be done to stabilize the economy. But is this the best way to do it?
    Picking a candidate is difficult to do because different sources tell you different things. Nonetheless, from my research I finally think I’m more of a Clinton supporter. Although she has a lot of the same ideas as Obama, she has more experience as well as a more structured plan for withdrawing the troops from Iraq.
    I encourage everyone to look at these issues so they can make more educated decisions. It scares me that some people vote for things and for people they know nothing about.
Jennifer Carcamo, 18, High-Tech High—L.A.

Obama is the change that we need

Although the nation and many Democrats are torn between Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton, I certainly am not. Clinton offers great qualifications and as she has repeatedly said, “35 year of experience,” which is exactly why I do not support her. I believe and know that America needs change, not just a shift in powers from Republicans to Democrats, or a shuffling of roles from first lady to commander in chief, but a genuine change that will unite all Americans of different races, creeds, parties and ages to heal the wounds of our aching nation. On Super Tuesday, Obama declared to a crowd that, “Our time has come. Our movement is real. And we are the change we have been waiting for.” Many question Obama’s preparedness. Obama has been heavily involved in politics for the past 10 years and before that he was an active community leader and civil rights lawyer. Obama is ready today, he’s ready tomorrow, and he is ready for the many dilemmas President Bush has left to his successor. The real question is, is America ready for a change that will alter its future for the better?
Christina Quarles, 17, Palisades Charter HS

It’s too bad all the candidates couldn’t stay in the race

Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton were the only two Democratic candidates still running when it was time for the California primary and I don’t think it should have been that way. Voters who supported candidates who dropped out, like John Edwards, didn’t get to vote for their candidate. Even though Edwards was still on the ballot, his supporters’ votes wouldn’t have made much of a difference because he was already out of the race. I think people should get to vote for their first choice and all the candidates should continue to participate until the last state has voted.
    And all the candidates should be able to participate in TV debates, not just those who the media believes should get attention. This would make the democratic process better because all the candidates would have an equal chance to persuade the country to vote for them. Candidates would not gain advantages based on media attention or who spends more money, but on whose policies people think are better.
Nidia Trejo, 17, Downtown Magnets HS

Volunteering was cool, but voting was empowering!

I arrived at my neighborhood polling station, St. Bede’s church in Mar Vista, before the sun rose, a little bleary-eyed but preparing myself for a long day. At first I milled around, not sure what to do, but eventually I settled in. My task was to greet voters, find their names on the roster, and get their signatures.
    I loved being in the midst of the voting process, and being involved in the actual logistics of the election. It was great to see so many people showing up to have their say in the government. While the job got a little dull after several hours, I found ways to keep it interesting, mainly through people watching. One crotchety old woman muttered at me in French while she signed, and I enjoyed observing spouses who came in separately.
    The highlight of the experience was when I actually voted for the first time. As I punched in my answers on the ballot, I couldn’t help but feel a thrill of exhilaration at this very significant transition in my life, as I entered the voting population. While working for fourteen hours was draining, I thoroughly enjoyed helping out with the election process. 
Sasha Jones, 18, Crossroads School (Santa Monica)

Campaigning for Hillary paid off

I was so excited when Hillary Clinton won California. The seven months of 10-plus hour weeks interning at her campaign’s rundown (it was actually to save money) office finally paid off. I stood amid a crowd of a thousand Southern California Hillary supporters in Burbank chanting "Yes, she can," as CNN projected Hillary’s victory here in California.
    I was proud that the candidate I staunchly supported and worked so hard for won. Although many critics would easily criticize her, Hillary is the best candidate because of her experience and pragmatic approach to politics. Barack Obama lacks these invaluable skills and has, what I believe to be, childish optimism. He speaks of change and unity, when Washington is so polarized. Bush used this same rhetoric while running in the presidential race, but as you could see, the political differences have grown between the two parties. I hope future voters, especially younger voters, will see this. If I hadn’t believed in Hillary, I wouldn’t have made the thousands of phone calls, gone to the countless community events or even wrote this. Plainly speaking, Hillary is the best candidate—my candidate.
Se Kim, 17, Pacifica Christian HS (Santa Monica)

I’m excited even though I can’t vote

By the time I was 6 years old, I viewed politics as a game where a bunch of old people make rules for the country if they win an election. I felt it didn’t matter who made them because they didn’t affect me, or at least I didn’t think they would affect me. Now that I’m 16, my views have broadened. I understand a lot more about our government. My view has changed in the last few months, especially from watching the news. Hillary Clinton won New Hampshire after an emotional break. History is in the making with the 2008 presidential elections.  Clinton won the California primary with 59% of the female votes and Barack Obama came close. I’m excited to see who wins this presidential election in November. Although I cannot vote, I’ll be just as excited to watch this election and remember this part of history. I’m rooting for the Democratic Party because I think both candidates are qualified and they are a minority.
Amanda Ly, 16, Mark Keppel HS

The primary system could be more fair

Tuesday night was very exciting because it could make a huge difference in who will be nominated in the general election. I was watching MSNBC and I was very surprised to find out how the delegates for each party are chosen. The Republicans have a winner-take-all system where the candidate that gets the most votes in a state gets all of that state’s delegates. The Democrats divide the delegates based on the percentage of votes cast for each candidate. I think that both parties should have used the same system to get delegates because it would make the parties more fair and democratic.
Helen Trejo, 17, Downtown Magnets HS

I didn’t have enough information to vote

I’m an 18-year-old high school student. I didn’t vote in Tuesday’s election and neither did most of my friends. It’s not that I don’t want to vote, it’s just that I was unclear on some things. For instance, I only knew about one candidate, Barack Obama. He is the only one I saw in commercials and news stories and supporters holding signs. I didn’t even know that the election was on Tuesday. Lack of interest I guess. But now I’m choosing to vote in November. When I was watching the TV show The View, one lady said that she almost missed the chance to vote. She said that she’s glad she didn’t because then she wouldn’t be able to complain. That’s what started me thinking. By voting I’ll have the chance to change my country for the better.
Ashawnte King, 18, North Hollywood Adult School

I can’t wait to be a first-time voter

I am SO excited that I get to vote in the general election this year!! I may not be able to vote in the primary because I’m only 17 right now, but that’s okay with me. As a Democrat, I’m thrilled with both the candidates, but that makes it hard for me to choose who I’d most prefer to run the country. Regardless of who wins, I’ll be proud to vote in November.
Sarah Evans, 17, Temple City HS

I’m glad others see that Hillary has the experience we need

I’m excited to see that
Hillary Clinton has won California in the primary. Barack Obama is an acceptable candidate who pales in comparison to Hillary’s determination and experience. Anyone who has listened to one of Obama’s speeches will notice its resemblence to a church gospel (the audience responds in Hallelujah-like tones to all positive parts of his preaching, which is discouraging to hear from the masses of a world superpower of reputedly independent thinkers). At least Californians are capable of overlooking the bandwagon candidate, who’s a fine inspirational speaker but who hasn’t shown he’s worthy of being a presidential candidate.
    I just returned from working as a student pollworker at my local polling station. Everyone worked 14 hours today, which is far longer and more demanding than being in school ever is! I was totally sucked into the action even though I’m not a fervent fan of political divides. I hope that Americans will remember to think with their heads this election and not pledge allegiance to candidates who offer vague promises in a pretty package of charisma. I’ve neglected to mention the Republican candidates because I assume a Democrat will win the November elections, and John McCain seems to be ahead anyway.
Sylvana Insua-Rieger, 16, Beverly Hills HS