Candidates organize large-scale events all over the country to raise money or appeal to specific voting demographics. But when Richard Carmona, the Democratic Party’s Arizona candidate for U.S. Senate, brought former President Bill Clinton to the heart of ASU’s Tempe campus Wednesday, he had a different goal in mind: cater to the educated and active college constituency.
“I feel that (students) have (cared) more this election,” ASU Young Democrats President Selianna Robles said. “I feel social media has really helped spread the bug of politics with everything that we can get our hand on.”
After the 2008 election triggered an increase in young voters across America, many groups like the Young Democrats and College Republican National Committee tried to continue students’ excitement for politics. This engagement caught the eye of many politicians and created a stronger accountability for education issues.
“We’ll be on their minds now when they’re passing legislation or they’re going to vote on a bill that will affect students,” Robles said.
Carmona’s and Clinton’s speeches at Sun Devil Performance Field focused on Arizona universities and general education issues.
“Smart governments invest in their youth because it’s your best asset,” Carmona said.
The cost of college has gone up twice the rate of inflation but state legislators have cut higher education spending over the last 20 years, Clinton said. The U.S. now ranks 16 in the percentage of young adults with a four-year college degree.
“That is very bad news for the American Dream and for our future. We’ve got to get back up at the top of the heap,” Clinton said.
Clinton also discussed a 2009 student loan reform that allows students to pay back debt as a fixed percentage of their income after graduation. He said that electing Carmona was crucial to ensuring that this legislation continues.
“If you want there to be a 21st century modern American middle class with a good education, then you’ve got to vote for Rich Carmona,” he said.
Students’ increased interest in politics has encouraged politicians to come to college campuses and reach out to students directly.
“I think it makes politics more real for students. A lot of us are first-time voters … but now it’s something that we see on a daily basis,” Robles said. “People are coming out to reach out to us. It seems more important for us to be involved.”