Many adults have a sense that young people don’t care about politics or that they don’t believe voting is important. Two young women at George Mason University have a very deep passion for politics and what they believe is right for America. Though these women have drastically different views, they are both actively participating in this election process.
Valerie Bachelor, 23, is a 2007 George Mason graduate, and now she is involved in a completely different scene. “My classes at Mason gave me the historical and theoretical foundation I needed to put my work in politics into perspective,” Bachelor said. “Before college all I thought was that the Democratic Party was right and the Republican Party was wrong. As a college student, I discovered the pros and cons of both. This allowed me to solidify my Democratic beliefs and guide my career in politics.”
Shannen Cleveland, 19, a sophomore at George Mason, came to college with her political beliefs already firmly in place. “I have been a Republican, or had Republican ideals for as long as I can remember because that was the way I was brought up, but I started to identify strongly with the Republican Party about four years ago,” said Cleveland. “That’s also when I began researching candidates for elections.”
While Cleveland researched Republican beliefs and candidates on her own, Bachelor opted to get involved on campus. “The political activities I took part in, such as being on the executive board of the GMU College Democrats and working on a gubernatorial race in 2005, have shaped the networks I am a part of as a professional in D.C.,” said Bachelor.
Bachelor’s passion for politics recently took her to Denver for the Democratic National Convention. She attended as part of the Women’s Information Network, a networking organization for progressive, pro-choice women. “I knew I would have many more opportunities to be involved if I went to Denver. So I took a chance and booked my flight,” she said.
Cleveland attended the McCain-Palin rally on Sept. 8 in Fairfax, Va. “I skipped class to go to this rally because I thought that it was very important to be there,” she said. “After all, it’s history!
“The rally itself was an amazing experience,” she said excitedly. “First, they had a couple speakers tell the audience that they were Democrats, but because of McCain’s plans for when he’s in office, they are now going to vote for a Republican candidate in this election.” When Sen. John McCain and Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin took the stage, she said, their speeches were just shortened versions of the speeches they gave at the Republican National Convention. “I thought that they did an excellent job at boosting the audiences’ confidence in the Republican candidates even more than it already was.”
Bachelor’s trip to Denver also made a big impact on her. As a former Hillary Clinton supporter, Bachelor is now supportive of Barack Obama. “I was really mesmerized by his speech,” she said. “I really think I needed to be there to realize that Obama is the guy.”
Bachelor also explained that the convention made her feel even more strongly that the country is ready for change. “We need a leader that understands how hard it is for working families these days,” she said. “He represents the change that is brewing in America as a whole whether you talk about healthcare, the economy, the environment or foreign policy. America needs a change after eight years of President Bush’s policies.”
While Bachelor seems to be mainly concerned with the economy, Cleveland has a different concern. “I believe that this election is extremely important with the country in war,” Cleveland said. “We are electing into office a new commander in chief who is ultimately responsible for making decisions that could be good or detrimental to this country.
“I am very glad I was able to see them speak, and the rally was very exciting to me,” Cleveland concluded. “I cannot wait for the election coming up in November!”
“For the first time ever in American political history a female and a minority have come out on top during the primary of a major political party,” said Bachelor. “This election has already changed American history.”