I'm voting for Obama because I'm a female college student
As a 21-year-old woman voting in her first presidential election, I'm voting for Barack Obama.
In 2008, I was 17 years old, just on the cusp of voting, and I started to pay attention to politics, thanks to a great government teacher who tried to make us excited about our country for the first time. My high school was mainly Republican, both teachers and students alike, but he made it seem like it was OK to explore our options.
2008 was an interesting election year. George W. Bush was going to leave office, and the country needed to decide if we wanted to make a change or elect a man who would continue Bush's work.
I wanted change. I had hope. I wanted to see this country grow and move forward. I couldn't give my vote, but I could give my support.
Four years later, I'm not sure if Obama has accomplished all he promised, but I'm not ready to give up on him just yet. Who can really accomplish such lofty goals - like the ones Obama promised in 2008 - in just four years, coming off a terrible eight-year period? I don't blame him for the state of our country, and I think he's worked as hard as he can to achieve change. He just needs more time, and a party switch is not what America needs right now.
Obama appeals most to us - college-aged students who haven't quite entered the real world just yet but want to know they are entering a sound and stable economy with a plan for the future.
We still care about student loans and financial aid, we hope jobs are waiting for us post-graduation and we want to know we have access to health care if we ever find ourselves in need.
As a woman, Obama is my clear choice. Polls have Obama as the clear favorite among - the largest gender gap since 2000 when Al Gore won by 11 points among women, but Bush won by nine points among men. That's a 20-point difference. This year, Obama is winning among women by nine points, while Romney is winning among men by nine points - an 18-point difference.
Romney hasn't been able to grasp women's votes, and rightfully so. With comments about "binders full of women" and anecdotes about sending his chief of staff - who happens to be a woman - home in time to cook dinner, I don't think he quite gets the idea that women are just as capable as men.
Romney plans to defund Planned Parenthood, essentially eliminating the one program that gives support to poor women in need of mammograms, cervical cancer screening, family planning, contraceptives and other services - critical support in terms of women's health.
Obama believes women's rights to be a key issue in this year's election. His Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act helps provide free access to contraception and preventive care. He also supports the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Act, which allows working women to earn pay equal to a man's.
And who can forget what Michelle Obama said during her Democratic Convention speech?
"[Obama] believes that women are more than capable of making our own choices about our bodies and our health care ... that's what my husband stands for," she said.
In terms of education, Obama plans to double funding for Pell Grants, establish a college tax credit and he's already capped student loan rates at 10 percent of income. I don't have to worry as much about how I will pay off my loans post-graduation, and my sister won't have to worry about being the second child to go to college anymore and what will fund her education.
"Higher education cannot be a luxury reserved for just a privileged few," Obama has said of his plans. He wants a more educated nation, proving America is the best of the best, while Romney still seems to think education is a privilege, not a right, and thinks only those who can afford a degree should earn one.
How is that conducive to making America the most highly educated nation? Why should anyone give up learning because he or she can't afford the absurd tuition rates at most four-year institutions? The bachelor's degree is the new high school diploma, while master's are quickly replacing four-year degrees. The time for change in our education system is now.
And once we have that degree, we hope to have a job to go with it. While Romney is constantly criticizing Obama for not creating more jobs like he promised back in 2008, the job rate has fallen below 8 percent - the lowest it's been since Jan. 2009, when Obama took over office from Bush. I think if we re-elect Obama, that number will just continue to decline and we, as a nation, need to give it that chance.
Romney may be a businessman who thinks his plans will work better, but Obama is on the brink of a breakthrough and he needs a second chance. Four years is such a short amount of time, if you think about it. The progress Obama has made may seem miniscule or non-existent, but he's on the road to change. We just have to hope and keep moving forward.
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