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Monday, September 29, 2008

Let Them Eat Cake

Ken Kerr Bio

It was pretty touch-and-go last Friday. It wasn't until just before 11:00a.m. that John McCain decided to attend that evening's debate with Barack Obama.

Here where I teach, at Frederick Community College, we had scheduled Debate Watch Parties. Teaching in a community college with a 100% commuter population, and very few students taking Friday classes, presents its own challenges when planning a Friday evening event. Once the drinking age was moved back up to 21 from 18, it's been difficult to get students to attend college social events. I can remember being an undergrad at Hood College back in 1980 and Dr. Len Latkovski invited us all to watch the debate. He brought a 12-pack to the classroom. Those were the days.

The best I can offer my students is pizza and soft drinks and a sheet cake for each candidate. The idea is, once the debate is over, the students come up and take a piece of cake of the candidate they think won their vote.

It was a rainy evening, McCain's appearance was shaky, and I knew the newspaper and NBC affiliate were coming to do a story on college students involved in the political process. I pulled up in my pizza-laden pick-up truck to find several cars in the Conference center parking lot.

They came. Over 60 college students came back to campus at 9:00 on a Friday night to watch a presidential debate for what was probably the first time in their lives.

This is a year of firsts. I work a regular Friday afternoon shift at Democratic Headquarters in Frederick, Maryland. In 2004, I was needed for the full day—10:00 a.m. until 6:00 p.m. This year, I am only needed from 4-6. Four years ago, I would spend the 8-hour day with very little to do. This year, in get much more traffic in a single two-hour shift than I got in a full 8-hour day in 2004.

It is not just that have registered more voters this year, but I have registered more adults who are voting for the first time in their lives. And I am registering voters who do not look like typical Frederick County Democrats. The typical gun rights, hard working, low taxes, family values, flag waving, socially conservative, yet politically apathetic, resident of Frederick County isn't buying it anymore. He wants things to change.

Things are different this year. But I don't see how it cannot go Obama's way. For the first time in a long time, the Electoral College is the Democrat's friend. In the 35 remaining days, I don't see how the map can change. Obama will get 283 electoral votes, despite Bubba. For the most part, Bubba lives in states that are going red anyway.

Actually, I had Bubba in my class last Thursday. I covered a class for a colleague and the class had been reading about politics: the Electoral College, the Meaning of Liberal and Conservative. A brash, vocal, opinionated young man was expressing total disinterest in politics in total and an admiration for Republicans in general. I went to the computer and brought up a presidential quiz and asked him to complete it while the class looked on. I don't have to tell you his reaction when he found that Obama would support his stand on the issues more that McCain.

So I say, "Let them eat cake." And, last Friday after the debate, they did. If you click on the link above for the first mention of the cakes, you can see them pre-debate. Click here, to see the results.

Like this cake, in 35 days, victory will be sweet.


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