Second presidential debate a step towards youth engagement

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Second presidential debate a step towards youth engagement

Governor Mitt Romney addresses the audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The town hall style of the debate defused some of the formality ingrained in presidential debates, a sure first step towards becoming more youth-friendly. Photo used courtesy of BROOKS KRAFT / CORBIS FOR TIME.

Governor Mitt Romney addresses the audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The town hall style of the debate defused some of the formality ingrained in presidential debates, a sure first step towards becoming more youth-friendly. Photo used courtesy of BROOKS KRAFT / CORBIS FOR TIME.

Governor Mitt Romney addresses the audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The town hall style of the debate defused some of the formality ingrained in presidential debates, a sure first step towards becoming more youth-friendly. Photo used courtesy of BROOKS KRAFT / CORBIS FOR TIME.

Governor Mitt Romney addresses the audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The town hall style of the debate defused some of the formality ingrained in presidential debates, a sure first step towards becoming more youth-friendly. Photo used courtesy of BROOKS KRAFT / CORBIS FOR TIME.

Soumya Kurnool

Second presidential debate a step towards youth engagement

Governor Mitt Romney addresses the audience of undecided voters at the second presidential debate held Oct. 16 at Hofstra University in Hempstead, NY. The town hall style of the debate defused some of the formality ingrained in presidential debates, a sure first step towards becoming more youth-friendly. Photo used courtesy of BROOKS KRAFT / CORBIS FOR TIME.

Although many reacted to the debate with GIFs and witty Twitter posts poking fun at Obama’s and Romney’s vicious attacks aimed at one another — including Obama’s jab about the size of Romney’s pension and Romney’s “binders full of women” — what really should be emphasized was the success of the debate in being much more student-friendly than either the first presidential debate or the vice presidential debate.

The town hall debate style lent a level of informality to the debate, making it easier for students to comprehend. The debate held at Hofstra University, NY was addressed directly to eighty undecided voters, each of whom had prepared questions for the candidates. These were average citizens, and the issues they brought up, such as gas prices, equal pay for women and outsourcing by companies like Apple, were issues that come up regularly in the Cupertino community.

This impact was also strong enough to reach students, as the debate put an emphasis on education right from the start, with its first question from Jeremy Epstein, a junior at Adelphi University: “Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. What can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

At 20, Epstein is not much older than the average high school student, which brings us as high school students into the picture. After all, it will not be long before we are in his shoes, in college wondering about our future outlook. By starting off with the concern of the youth, the debate had higher potential to pique the interest of young people like us in the upcoming election to increase voter turnout in what is the least active age group of voters.

To an extent, it is arguable that we don’t have any excuse not to keep up with the election or tune into the debates. Obama and Romney are not discussing random issues that have nothing to do with us; they are discussing proposals for student loans and employment that will directly impact us in as little as one year, for those who will be college-bound next fall. In addition, the debate was live-streamed on YouTube, where many high school students already spend much of their time. All we need to do is to switch tabs from those viral cat videos to the debate and voila! We will no longer be politically perplexed.