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franklin county times

Students offer clarity amid confusion

By By Fredie Carmichael / staff writer
Oct. 10, 2004
Today's society confuses me to no end. Sometimes I wish God hadn't made me so analytical, but I am. The biggest thing that bugs me is that I can't seem to figure out the direction of my generation. And that worries me.
It bothers me that there are a number of people my age who could care less about who our next president will be. And the most disturbing thing is that a majority of them won't even vote.
As I watched some college students on a cable news channel last week talk about who they were going to vote for, my outlook worsened. Neither student, one a Kerry supporter and the other a Bush supporter, could make anything other than bland, generic talking point speeches.
I yelled at the television, "Come on, say something!" I guess they couldn't hear me. But at least my dog did.
I looked down at Oreo, my 6-pound Maltese-Poodle puppy, and apologized for my outburst. Oreo looked as confused as I was; then she glanced back at the TV and barked.
Mid-week success story
Luckily, by mid-week, I found some clarity. I was at Southeast Lauderdale High School for Career Day. I was there to speak about journalism. But since I was still confused about this generation's passion for politics, I thought it would be fun to quiz them about the upcoming presidential election.
Two of the students just flat out blew me out of the water with their responses Gary James, 17, an 11th grader, and Greg Mangum, 15, a 10th grader.
These two students knew there stuff. Mangum is a conservative Republican and heads a local group of teenage Republicans. He wore a dress shirt and tie and displayed strong convictions.
He made it clear right away that he knew why he believed what he believed. You could tell he had formed his own opinions about his political views and hadn't just adopted them from his parents.
That's a novel idea. He went on to explain that he was against abortion, big government and stem cell research, except in certain limited situations.
Sounded good to me.
Then there was James, the slightly older guy who wore an ear-to-ear grin, a T-shirt and flip-flops (no pun intended). As James put it, "I'm a liberal progressive."
Talking politics
James really bowled me over when he started talking about his favorite author, Ann Coulter, a strong conservative writer who recently penned "Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right." James said Coulter was the reason he fell in love with politics.
James then told me that he relies on newspaper articles, magazines and cable news channels for keeping informed.
By the time James, who is from Cheyenne, Wyo., informed me he was from Dick Cheney's hometown but still believed his former state had the chance to be a blue state, I wanted to check his ID to make sure he was really 17 years old.
Most people my age don't even know the difference between a blue state and a red state.
Then came the kicker I asked James what he thought about this year's presidential race and the debates.
Now that's pretty perceptive for anyone, especially a 17 year old.
Maybe my outlook on today's generation shouldn't be so bleak after all, especially with James and Mangum in the picture.
Fredie Carmichael is a staff writer for The Meridian Star. Call him at 693-1551, ext. 3228, or e-mail
fcarmichael@themeridianstar.com.

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