United in passion, students organize opposing clubs
November 3, 2008
Callie Ward and Rebecca Gansberg, both 18, will be voting for the first time in a general election today. But they will cast very different votes.
Ward, a volunteer with the Obama for Change campaign, organized a Youth for Obama club at Carson High School.
Shortly after, Gansberg, who campaigns for the McCain/Palin ticket, created a club for students at the high school who support John McCain.
“It looked like it was in response to (the Obama club),” Gansberg explained. “Only half of it was. I’d already been planning to do one. I think kids should have a choice.”
“As the young generation, we’re going to inherit the problems of our nation,” she said. “We have to be informed about the issues.”
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Getting the process started, however, wasn’t easy. When Ward first approached administrators about forming the club, she said, they were hesitant.
“They wanted to remain neutral,” she said. “I told them I wasn’t stopping anyone from forming a McCain club. And I certainly wouldn’t try to bully anyone into joining my club.”
Little more than a week passed before Gansberg formed the alternative club. But, she said, it wasn’t easy finding supporters. In a mock election held Thursday among juniors and seniors, 132 voted for McCain while 207 cast their votes for Obama.
“McCain is an older guy and he’s not as appealing. Obama is more eloquent, and he appeals to the younger crowd,” Gansberg said. “Right now, Obama is the popular thing.”
However, she said the advantage of supporting the underdog is finding others who are truly committed.
“The kids in my group really believe in what McCain thinks,” she said. “They’re not afraid to say what they believe in instead of just going with the crowd.”
Ward said she recognized there may be some fad elements drawing students to Obama, but that did not affect her decision.
“I just really support his plan for education,” she said. “I don’t want to sound cliche, but I do recognize the fact that he would look out for my generation, just in terms of college affordability.”
After studying the issues, she said, she chose to caucus for Obama and was elected as the county representative, then as the representative for the state.
“It was an amazing experience to make it to the state convention,” she said. “I thought they wouldn’t take me seriously. It’s really nice to meet adults who are appreciative.”
Although opposing in their political ideologies, it is perhaps their similarities that makes them most notable.
The two worked together to organize a forum for their fellow seniors last week in which representatives from both campaigns spoke with students and answered questions.
They’ve both spent weekends canvassing for their respective candidates and both will be volunteers today at the polls and counting ballots.
“Especially in this election when we’re breaking through the race barrier and gender barrier, why would we let political ideals get in the way of friendship?” Ward asked.
– Contact reporter Teri Vance at firstname.lastname@example.org or 881-1272.