At a Marco Rubio town hall meeting that our group attended on Friday morning, there were some unexpected, last minute attendees. Ten minutes before Rubio was scheduled to make his appearance, a large group of middle-school-age students filed in and took seats on the floor immediately in front of the stage. They were polite and well behaved throughout the meeting, and each had come prepared with a question to ask the Senator if he were to call on them during the Q and A session. Rubio ended up taking two questions from the group, and referenced them more than once, noting that issues like the rising cost of education will fall heavily on younger generations that include the kids who sat just in front of him.
I have no idea whether the Rubio campaign sought out the attendance of these children or if their teachers or school system organized the visit, but either way their presence spoke to an issue that transcends party and platform lines. Repeatedly candidates on both sides of the aisle in every variation of setting have emphasized that the burdens created by many of the topics on the table today will disproportionately affect those who succeed current policymakers. Senator Sanders has repeatedly referenced climate change as the most important issue to address concerning the safety and security of the American people, even though its most devastating effects may not be felt for decades. At another town hall meeting this week, Governor Christie vocally attacked the federal government practice of borrowing money from social security and disability funds that has shrunk the coffer significantly and left it with a projected solvent life span of seven years. Whatever their stances, these politicians are concerned with the effects policies and practices will have over time, even in the face of what seem like compounding demands from voters for instant and dramatic change to be enacted in Washington. “Securing this great nation for our grandchildren” may have always been a go-to fluff point in politics, but these presidential hopefuls are taking pains to appear that they can walk the talk.
--Elizabeth Branscum is a St. Olaf sophomore from Oklahoma City, OK studying Sociology/Anthropology and Environmental Studies. She is in New Hampshire as part of a St. Olaf political science class studying the presidential election.