The Two-Party Party

Tuesday, February 5 was an important day for American politics, with five frontrunners among the Republicans and Democrats vying to win their parties’ nomination to become the country’s 44th President. For the event, the University of Chicago Democrats and Republicans transformed the Reynolds Club’s Hallowed Grounds coffee shop, installing a projector and setting up speakers so that students could huddle together and support their candidate as the night’s results unfolded. The place was packed. At the very least there were a hundred people, and though the results started coming in at seven, a solid group of students soldiered on until 11:30 as the number of votes in California and Missouri were still being counted.

On the side of the Democrats, the race was divided between Obama and Clinton. The two candidates were fighting tooth and nail to win every state and delegate, and by the end of the night, neither candidate had a clear lead. For the Republicans, the race was less intense: McCain was winning most of the states, with Huckabee and Romney trailing behind.

Obama was often the favorite in the crowd, and there was lots of cheering when ABC News announced that he and his wife had cast their ballots that morning in their Chicago neighborhood of Hyde Park. Which is not to say that there weren’t any Clinton supporters: when a percentage went up on the screen conveying Hillary as the more popular candidate with women and men over 65, her fans contended that they were “older and wiser”; a response to a previous statement that Obama was a popular choice among young voters due to his youthful appeal and his promise to change stuffy and corrupt Washington politics.

The event at the Grounds, if anything, proved that political involvement, or at the very least political curiosity, is quite prevalent among UofC students. After all, for many students present that night, it was their first time voting, and for pretty much all of them, it was their first time electing a new President.

The UC Dems stuck out in the crowd with their “Smart Ass” t-shirts, and when asked if they had anything to say about the event, they urged students who wanted to become more politically involved to attend a series of events that they are organizing entitled “Get Some Action.” It starts February 18 and ends on the 21st. Ultimately, if Obama is indeed the candidate that most reminds us of John F. Kennedy, then maybe like the young generation of the 1960s, it is time for today’s youth to take responsibility for the social change that they wish to see in their country.