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Presidential hopeful John Edwards addresses students

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By Desiree Perez

By Desiree Perez

The youth market is open for business. All presidential candidates claim to care about America’s young people. At this point in the game, however, the only one displaying any concern for college students is presidential hopeful John Edwards.

While most other runners are content to schmooze up powerful party members, Edwards is on the move. As part of his “College Tour,” Edwards visited campuses nationwide, including UCLA, in an attempt to get college youths more involved in the democratic process.

Yeah, OK. I know he’s touring colleges in order to bag a couple more votes. That’s politics. It doesn’t mean Edwards isn’t concerned with the young people of America. In fact, I recently had the opportunity to speak personally with Edwards.

As part of his “College Tour,” Edwards also held several telephone conferences with college reporters. No one else has made that kind of outreach to college students as of yet. If that’s not concern for American youth, I don’t know what is.

During that telephone conference, Edwards made it clear that young people hold the future of America in their hands. “College students are bringing about the change that we need in this country,” Edwards said.

While the future of America may lie within our grasp, Edwards would certainly like to have a helping hand. The Edwards platform is built on some fairly revolutionary changes.

Working with alternative energy is one of Edwards’ main concerns. In fact, his entire presidential campaign will be “carbon neutral.” A better world doesn’t end with the ozone.

In a movement to bring about progress in humanity, Edwards has called for an end to the “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy in American military. Universal health care is another staple of Edwards’ campaign.

Edwards not only expressed concern for the state of America and its citizens, but he was adamant in looking at issues beyond our borders.

“We need to be ready to take action,” Edwards said in response to the continuing genocide in Darfur. By stepping up, Edwards hopes to “exhibit America being a force of good again.” Being the most powerful country on Earth accounts for nothing if you’re unwilling to use your power where it counts.

Edwards’ hopes for America’s future are vast. Still, his boldest initiative yet centers at the heart of this country’s youth.

In his campaign, Edwards has expressed the desire to compensate students for holding down jobs. If you are a student and you are working at least 10 hours a week, Edwards wants to give you a free year of tuition at a public university-books included.

When I first heard this, I figured it couldn’t be done. I asked Edwards how a plan like this could work. “I know it works,” Edwards said. “We’ve actually done it in Eastern Carolina… I’d love to make it four years, not one.”

Edwards ended the conference on an optimistic note. “I think students can make an enormous difference. (They have) a willingness to stand up for what’s right instead of being political and careful,” Edwards said.

The election of 2008 is far off, and the months in between will be filled with propaganda from all candidates. Whether or not you decide John Edwards deserves your vote, don’t be afraid to ditch the political garbage and stand up for what’s right.

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