Allison Kjergaald takes a look at York’s expatriate US community and asks for their opinion on the American Primaries
The US student community in York is a small but lively one, with new members arriving every ‘semester’ on study abroad programs, both at the University of York and the Calvary Chapel Bible College York, located just outside the city walls.
With the US primaries in full force, Nouse carried out an opinion poll, interviewing a number of the American students studying in York to see how the expatriate US community here will vote. Results of the poll show Republican Mike Huckabee and Democrat Barack Obama to be the frontrunners.
Huckabee’s supporters defend his socially conservative stance and evangelical Christian values and stand by the three main points of his campaign; faith, family, freedom.
Josh Arnold from California said that Huckabee “seems the most respectable and godly man there is running at the moment. I like his views on Israel, homosexuality and abortion. He is against the last two for biblical reasons and believes in bringing families back together.”
Casey O’Keefe from Virginia was in agreement, rating Huckabee as the best candidate because he is “pro-life, conservative, and a strong Christian.” However, while Huckabee tries to emphasize his Christian ideals, he strives to make sure his vision of ‘faith’ goes along with the notion of ‘freedom.’
On the opposite end of the political spectrum, students supporting Barack Obama highlight his heavily advertised “ability to bring about real change in Washington.”
Like many other candidates, Obama’s ‘blueprint for change’ includes a comprehensive environmental policy supporting “clean energy and plans to increase funding for the usage of wind power, bio-fuels, and low-carbon fuels.” However, more broadly, as Britain Brady, a PhD student from California advocates, Obama’s nomination would be “the first step in the right direction for the rebirth of American greatness.” Obama “seems to be the only person who understands the seriousness of the plight of America.”
The key to Obama’s ‘Change We Can Believe In’ campaign is to separate himself from what a student dubs, “the game of politics.” For Democrat-inclined students, Obama does not “play the game of politics in an effort to try and ‘win’ an election. Obama tries to change the game of politics entirely, in the effort to ‘win’ a new America.”
John Edwards similarly plays into liberal America’s push to see dramatic changes in government, presenting himself as a champion of social change. One student from New York, when asked who they supported, said “John Edwards. All of the Democrats prioritize the war in Iraq and Healthcare. However I agree with many of Edwards’ views and more so than the other candidates, he emphasizes the importance of rapidly addressing the issue of climate change.”
The issue of Iraq does play a huge role in the campaigns of candidates and subsequently has an impact on voters. For those who disagree with the ‘War on Terror’, Obama seems to be a safe bet. One student said Obama “has a comprehensive plan for getting American troops out of Iraq, and beginning to help rebuild the country rather than continuing to destroy it.”
Although the American student population at this university is not large enough to provide a fair assessment of US voting trends, these individual opinions to some extent reflect how and why Americans support certain candidates. Plans regarding the environment, health care, and the war in Iraq vary slightly across candidates of the same party; in effect, personality and personal values of the candidates seem to weigh heavily on voters’ minds.
Obama as the energetic fighter for political change, Huckabee – in the words of one student – as a “bold, upstanding, godly kind of guy,” and Edwards as the experienced senator endorsing equal opportunity are only a few of the contending character portrayals that Americans have taken hold of.
As the 2008 presidential election draws nearer, polarized American voters will fall in step with their party of choice. In the meantime, however, those parties must decide who can best succeed in the race to the White House.