The Native Youth Voice This Election Year
The 2012 elections have come and gone, President Barack Obama has been re-elected to a second term as Commander and Chief and the minority vote helped in his reelection.
With a large turnout of American Indians showing up to the polls, Indian Country Today Media Network reached out to a first and a second-time Native youth voter to get their voices surrounding these elections.
In 2012, there were 46 million 18-29 year olds eligible to vote, 34 percent identify as non-white and 8 percent more young women voted than young men who voted in 2008.
University of Virginia students Katelyn Krause, an Environmental Sciences major, and Vittoria Capria, a Biology major, the president and co-vice-president of the American Indian Student Union, answered three questions on this election year.
Why was voting so important to you?
Capria: I voted because it is important to make your voice heard. This is the first time that I could and I was excited.
I used to live in Hawaii. If I was living in Hawaii now my vote wouldn't have mattered that much, because Hawaii always votes Democratic. Virginia is one of the key states. In the last elections Virginia had not gone Democratic in quite a while.
Krause: My 18th birthday was actually the 2008 presidential election. My birthday present to myself that year was to vote for Obama.
Virginia, we are an important state. It is easy to look at the Electoral College system and said that it is obvious in that my vote doesn't count. But if you think about it within your district, so many districts and counties will go based on 1,000 or more votes and that is not very much when you think about the population of the U.S.
You both voted for President Obama in the 2012 election, why?
Capria: I don't keep up with a lot of the economic stuff. It is more about social issues for me such as women's rights, abortion and birth control. Obama also went to the same high school that I did, so the fact that he is alumni did kind of sway me a bit.
Krause: I was (and am) absolutely 100 percent for Obama. I also voted for Tim Kaine for Senate. Kaine is an amazing guy. There are a multitude of reasons why I voted for Obama. It is hard for me to say which is most important, but I would definitely rank the environment as a factor and I think Obama's economic plan is infinitely better – the way he treats Natives and his views towards the Native community throughout U.S. and his stance on women and healthcare.
Basically, I don't think there is one thing that I would agree with [Mitt] Romney over Obama on.
What issues did you feel strongly about that affected your vote?
Capria: I am not too sure of either of the candidates Indian policy and Native issues, but typically Republicans are stereotyped as very "top-down" with tax breaks for millionaires, and there is probably some truth to that, I don't think the country would have been ruined if Romney won president, but I feel that the Obama Administrations ears are more open to those issues.
I watched the vice presidential debates with [Paul] Ryan and [Joe] Biden, the concept of abortion came up and they were both Catholic which apparently has never happened before – they both had similar views but Biden said he can't impose that on women. I really don't feel that you should impose your values – you are running an entire country of Catholics, that would be fine but America is really diverse. When it comes to social things like gay marriage, why do you care?
Krause: This has been a very controversial electoral season just because of all of the really bizarre and strange comments from many of the Republican candidates. They still garnered Romney's support. Particularly all of the different comments about rape for instance, Romney's support of [Richard] Mourdock is absolutely unfathomable.
Romney had said it was not his job in this campaign or as a president to heal the planet. I disagree with that completely and it frightened me deeply to think that we would possibly have had a president who did not view the environment health as one of his top priorities.
I am not a supporter of utilizing the Keystone [XL] Pipeline; I believe that we need to, as quickly as possible, move toward renewable energy resources. I know that Obama is big on this.