A version of this story is also airing on NPR’s All Things Considered.
Youth Radio reporter Bianca Brooks is in Charlotte along with the Youth Radio election team.
Over the past few weeks, President Obama has been heavily courting the youth vote, visiting college campuses in swing states around the country. At the Democratic Convention in Charlotte, North Carolina, there’s a big push for youth involvement. There are 644 delegates under the age of 35, and even an official youth engagement coordinator. Polls show young adult support for President Obama at around 55%, slightly down from when he was elected in 2008.
The film follows these young men from the age of 16 through their first year in college. At age 16, all three have political ambitions to be national leaders.
Director Jonathan Goodman Levitt calls it a “political coming of age story” — an accurate title since two of the boys go through a serious political transformation. The project was born out of Goodman-Levitt’s hypothesis that the 9/11 attacks drastically affected the political beliefs and mindset of an entire generation of young people. (more…)
President Obama’s re-election campaign has kicked off with the release of a 29 track mix on Spotify. The mix will also play at rallies, speeches and other events throughout 2012.
The campaign soundtrack features tracks by artists ranging from Jennifer Hudson to Arcade Fire. But to our surprise, there isn’t a single rap song. As a hip hop fan, this really sucks. If the mix was made to appeal to a wide range of voters, then why isn’t the most influential musical art form since rock and roll acknowledged?
So here are some rap songs that sampled from songs on the campaign mix.
1. Bun B – Pushin’ featuring Scarface & Young Jeezy
Using The Impressions’, “Keep On Pushing,” Bun B, along with rappers Scarface and Young Jeezy, spin tales of the adversities of selling illegal substances. Adding this song to the playlist would potentially rack up the “thug vote” across the nation.
2. Nicolay – Light It Up (Instrumental)
Al Green’s “Let’s Stay Together” is the most obvious song choice Obama could have madefor a re-election campaign. Switch it up with Nicolay’s “Light It Up,” which samples the Al Green hit. Even though there are no lyrics, the beat is a fresh interpretation with that familiar feeling.
3. Maxi Priest featuring Shaggy - That Girl
This song flips the first few seconds of Booker T. & the M.G.’s “Green Onions.” This song to me is a special exception because although what Shaggy could be considered rapping, he’s only featured on this R&B song. A good song with hints of hip hop for the first lady.
4. Common – Blue Sky
This one’s no joke. After both the Obama administration and Common took a beating in the press for the infamous poetry night at the White House, why not continue to change perceptions of rap music in America? Common’s lyrics on this song are actually more poignant than the song it samples from.
An attack video on Republican candidate frontrunner Mitt Romney has been making the rounds (the short version embeded above). And the “super PAC” supporting rival presidential candidate Newt Gingrich has come under fire for creating it.
The 28-minute video depicts Romney as a greed-driven “corporate raider” making money at the expense of American workers. Romney and other members of the GOP have fired back, calling it an attack campaign better suited to have originated from the Democrats. But from Newt? A fellow Republican?
Given the amount of press this piece is getting, coupled with the fact that Romney may ultimately win the Republican nomination, Gingrich’s campaign could ultimately work against the GOP ticket altogether.
I wonder if the President is thanking Newt right now…
Turnout among voters aged 18-to-29 more than doubled during the state’s 2008 primaries, when President Obama ran for office, CIRCLE research reflects. As the polls are open today in New Hampshire, are we seeing that level of activity this time around? No, says New Hampshire Public Radio reporter Josh Rogers.
I emailed Josh today, inquiring about the possible effects of the youth vote on today’s New Hampshire primary. Here is the result of our conversation:
TURNSTYLE:Young voters in New Hampshire have among the highest turnout rates in the country — on par with older voters. Why is that?
JOSH ROGERS: One thing that facilitates participation by all primary voters are New Hampshire’s election laws. Voters here can register at the polls, and registered independent voters — in New Hampshire we call them undeclared — can vote in either party’s primary. Voters are also not required to show ID.
TS:Youth voter turnout for the New Hampshire Primary more than doubled in 2008 (according to CIRCLE). Anecdotally, are you seeing anything notable today among young voters at New Hampshire polling stations?
JR: While Texas Congressman Ron Paul has the most conspicuous support from many younger voters, I don’t think anyone expects participation by the young to reach the heights of four years ago, when the Obama/Clinton primary brought many young people to the polls, particularly in New Hampshire’s college towns.
TS:How disruptive has the Occupy Movement been at this primary? Any surprises?
JR: The Occupy folks have been around. But apart from a few interruptions at candidate events — chanting, the occasional trombone interlude — and an encampment in a Manchester park, the Occupy Movement hasn’t been particularly high-profile here.
TS:What issues do young Republican voters in New Hampshire seem to care the most about? Are most young voters today actually Republican? (From CIRCLE: Nearly 40% of Young Republican Primary Voters Identified as “Independent” in 2008. … There were roughly 51,000 youth who participated in the Democratic primary in 2008 and 33,000 youth who participated in the Republican primary.)
JR: There are surely many young voters who are drawn to the Republican party but I don’t think, nor do Republican leaders here, that most young voters in New Hampshire are Republicans.
As far as issues go, most young republicans I’ve been talking to say fiscal matters are their top concerns: the national debt, the federal budget, federal spending. Fewer of them support the social issues that are important to many conservatives: opposition to same-sex marriage, for instance.
TS:Is there a decipherable sentiment or trend you are witnessing at the polls today?
JR: Turnout was expected to be fairly high, but I personally saw nothing that leaves me convinced it necessarily will be high. Mitt Romney is surely expected to win. If he doesn’t it would be a big loss. But the race for second does seems to be between Ron Paul and former Utah Governor Jon Huntsman, who have both reached out to young people. So youth voters could be pivotal in that respect.
Young voters came out in huge numbers to elect Obama in 2008, but how many young people remain inspired and involved four years later?
Democrats this year will be using their caucus to test how much support they have in the state, especially from the young voters. But those young caucus-goers may not show up this year — at least not for Obama.
The Obama For America campaign’s communication director in Iowa, John Kraus says the caucuses are a chance to show that Obama’s network from 2008 hasn’t disappeared. Despite the state’s focus on Republican candidates, Kraus says young Iowans are still connected to the campaign and still devoted to Obama.
“Whether it’s the Iraq War or ending “don’t ask don’t tell,” making college more affordable… Many of the things that he talked about in 2008 that inspired a lot of young people to get involved are issues that he delivered on,” said Kraus.
23 year-old Nick Cavanaugh is one of the more than 26,000 young Democrats who caucused for Obama in 2008. Back then, he was tan easy choice for Cavanaugh and his friends.
“I’m pretty sure everybody was excited about Obama in 2008,” said Cavanugh.
But this year, Cavanaugh says he doesn’t know which candidate his peers support. Apart from a few Facebook posts here and there, no one talks about the caucuses.
“It’s the arguing in Washington, man, has really turned me off to it. So I’ve started ignoring it all. I used to be a lot more politically informed, but not anymore. I just kind of let it go,” he said.
“There is a deep pessimism among young people across the country, only 12 percent of young Americans believe the country is running in the right direction,” said Volpe.
In December, Della Volpe held a focus group in Des Moines with young Democrats and Independents who supported Obama’s election in 2008. He says they were frustrated that the President, their candidate, hasn’t had more success getting his agenda past Congress. That he didn’t change enough in Washington.
“I do think young people are sending up a signal – letting both Obama, Republicans know that they’re just frustrated, that they don’t see as much change, as much of an effort at engaging this generation as they did last election cycle,” said Volpe.
Just how young Iowans send that signal on Caucus Night could be as routine and undramatic as a low turnout. Or some of them may switch parties, like 25-year-old Matt Heflin of Coralville. “Never in a million years imagined myself registering Republican – stay away from all Republicans, you know, they’re the Dark Side,” said Heflin.
And yet the former Obama supporter is now running a grassroots campaign office for Ron Paul in this suburb of Iowa City. Heflin says he’s just one of many young liberal voters who are receptive to the Texas Congressman’s stance on issues – like cutting the military budget and ending the War on Drugs. Heflin says he’s doing all he can to turn their open-mindedness into caucus votes.
“We definitely go to areas that are traditionally much younger… have a higher student population. When we call people, I try to avoid a certain age demographic calling because I’m just not very successful… I’d say anybody over 60 is just not on board with Ron Paul, I’ve found,” said Heflin.
“Don’t trust anyone over 60”–a strange slogan for supporting a candidate who is 76 years old. But polls show that young Republicans and Independents are responsible for making Paul a top contender in Iowa. And in hopes of adding young Democrats to that support base, the Paul campaign has been handing out pamphlets with instructions on how to register Republican, just for Caucus Night.
Iowa–Both Democrats and Republicans made final pushes yesterday to encourage voters to caucus this evening. Phone banks, rallies, and door to door efforts were under way.
Turnstyle made a stop at a grassroots Ron Paul organizing office in Coralville, Iowa, where we met Jill Butler, above, who was gearing up for caucus night.
“I found these pants and I thought they would be fun to wear for “Sign Bombs” – that’s when we wave signs for Ron Paul and get people to honk. I’m going to write my town on them, and take a picture of me wearing them, and send them on to New Hampshire and say, ‘Let’s keep this going to all fifty states.’ They will be the ‘Sisterhood of the Ron Paul Traveling Flag Pants.’”
President Obama announced mid-August that certain folks who are in the U.S. and undocumented, will be considered low-priority for deportation. Factors that could be taken into consideration are a person’s ties to the country, their intention to pursue higher education, and their physical health. On first glance, we might expect to see a decrease in the amount of deportations as a result of this announcement.
At Turnstyle, we heard the term Secure Communities and wanted to know more. We spoke with two experts who interact with S-Comm cases on a regular basis: Angela Chan, a staff attorney at the Asian Law Caucus, who specifically works on the intersection of the criminal just system and immigration, as well as Allison Davenport, a clinical instructor at the International Human Rights Law Clinic, at the U.C. Berkeley School of Law, who regularly does workshops for ICE detainees about their legal options in Contra Costa County.
The two of them broke down the specifics of the program, using examples from their own work.
What is the program?
Secure Communities is a program started by ICE that connects the local law enforcement database to the federal immigration system. Fingerprints of anyone who comes into contact with the police are sent to a state agency which forwards the fingerprints to the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). The fingerprints are then referenced against the Automated Biometric Identification System, called IDENT, that has information about immigration violators as well people with criminal records. IDENT was first activated in Harris County, TX on October 27, 2008. While S-Comm is not active in every county in the United States as of now, ICE plans to “turn it on” in every county by 2013.
What are the proceedings?
According to Chan, when the local police get involved in a situation — be it a traffic violation, a report of domestic violence, or another crime — the police take down the fingerprints, and identification information, of the parties involved.
First, the fingerprints go to the state department of justice and then onto the FBI for a criminal background check.
Now, because of S-Comm, in 44 states those fingerprints are then turned over to the federal immigration office and checked for immigration problems. If someone in local custody is in violation of legal immigration status, ICE can request that the local law enforcement hold that person for 48 hours. This hold happens regardless of what’s happening with the matter that the person was originally brought in for.
After these 48 hours, the person is turned over to ICE, which often entails being transferred to an immigration detention center.
While the intentions of S-Comm are to identify dangerous criminals who are eligible for deportation, Davenport said, in actuality, immigration officials are not discriminating between serious criminals and others. “Now it’s this huge sweeping process. Everyone who gets fingerprinted gets forwarded to the immigration system. People who are not even charged with a crime, or who would be released because of insufficient evidence, are forwarded to the immigration system and transferred to ICE custody, where they spend weeks in a detention facility,” she said. “There is an increase in scope, and a lack of distinction.”
Chan gave the example of someone calling to report domestic violence. “The police might not know who is the perpetrator and who is the victim. The police fingerprint both parties to see who’s lying. When they do that, unfortunately now, in 44 states including California, those fingerprints are turned over to the immigration office,” she said.
Secure Communities IDENT/IAFIS Interoperability Monthly Statistics through June 30, 2011
Who is affected?
One does not have to be a criminal to be at risk of being held for deportation under S-COMM; the program affects anyone who comes in contact with the local police.
“We’re finding that when [the criminal justice system and the immigration system] overlap and are forced together, it has a devastating impact on members of the immigrant community. S-Comm widens the entry point into the criminal justice system. In both systems, the numbers are increased through programs like S-Comm,” said Chan.
Both Chan and Davenport recounted some cases of individuals who had been affected by S-Comm:
“There was a case of someone named Isuara Garcia. She was 19 years-old. She called the police for help because her boyfriend was battering her. The police came and wanted to conduct further investigation. They took her to the hospital and the doctor said, yes, she is a victim of domestic violence. Because of S-Comm, local police notified ICE and she was transferred into ICE custody. She wasn’t deported–she became active and vocal about her situation. She spoke out, and had strong community support. Many other women deported before they can speak out,” said Chan.
Chan also recalled the case of a woman who called the police because she was worried that her sister was a victim of domestic violence. All three of them were brought into the local police station and fingerprinted. Because of S-Comm, ICE got involved and they were held in a detention center. “Once you’re in ICE custody, you feel isolated… You don’t have the right to a free immigration attorney. You’ll do whatever it takes to get out of there,” said Chan. Both of the sisters signed voluntary departure agreements and left the country, leaving two kids behind.
Can counties and states opt out of enforcing S-Comm?
When S-Comm was originally announced, there was confusion over whether it was mandatory or voluntary.
Chan tried to explain the complicated series of ICE communications that led to this confusion. “ICE sent out a cover letter at the beginning of last year that stated that counties could opt out,” said Chan. But, once more local law enforcements asked to opt out, ICE changed its mind and took back the option for counties to opt out, saying they only wanted to make agreements with state law enforcements.
So, local law enforcements began working with the state to opt out at that level. Once more states began opting out, ICE again changed its mind. “They said, ‘We don’t mean that you can opt out at the state level, we’ll actually operate without any consent from anyone,’” said Chan.
Chan said she received all of these communications from the desk of Janet Napolitano, John Morton (the director of S-COMM), or the White House Blog. “This was a clear and intentional tactic,” she said.
What legal counsel is provided for detainees of S-Comm?
People who have been detained by ICE after being identified through S-Comm have the right to immigration counsel if they can afford it, but do not have the right to a free immigration attorney. “The difference between being represented versus unrepresented in immigration courts makes a huge difference,” said Davenport.
For instance, if one does not pose a threat to the community, or is not a flight risk, then that person could potentially be released on bond while they await their hearing — and for some, this means going back to work, being with their families, and paying rent.
“People have a right to be represented by counsel, but they do not have a right to be represented at the expense of the government in deportation proceedings. Even though we’re detaining them in jail, it’s considered a civil proceeding, not a criminal proceeding,” she explained. “People are desperate for legal representation. …They feel isolated, they want to advocate for themselves, but don’t always have the mechanism to do that,” said Davenport.
Ultimately, the low-priority discretion that Obama mentioned, is in the hands of ICE. “The announcement that they made builds off the memo released in June that talks about the vague outlines of what low-priority cases could look like — veterans, pregnant women, victims of trafficking, those with mental conditions… But that’s all in theory,” said Davenport.
With the 2012 elections gearing up, and immigration policy a pivotal topic, it’s safe to say this isn’t the last time we’ll be hearing about ICE and the Secure Communities program.
Turnstyle is taking a look at the top four GOP candidates in the 2012 election. We put them side by side to see what they have to say about five issues that will be high priority for voters this fall.
In March, 2010, Congress passed the Affordable Care Act (termed “Obamacare”), which brought about many changes to national health care, such as expanding the coverage for children and young adults, and preventing insurance companiesfrom denying coverage based on pre-existing conditions.
Mitt Romney: “If I am elected president, I will issue on my first day in office an executive order paving the way for waivers from ObamaCare for all 50 states. Subsequently, I will call on Congress to fully repeal ObamaCare.”
Michele Bachmann: “I was the very first member of Congress to introduce the full-scale repeal of Obamacare. And I want to make a promise to everyone watching tonight: As president of the US, I will not rest until I repeal Obamacare.”
Ron Paul: “As President, I plan to defund Obamacare and all federal programs that use tax money taken from the American people to promote abortion. … I pledge also to veto any bill with funding for Planned Parenthood or any other international family planning regimes.”
Rick Perry: “I sincerely hope our principled senators, regardless of party, will toss out that trainwreck of a plan or its mandates will cripple our health care system and its price tag will bust our budget. … Instead of oppressive mandates, we need solutions like block grants and the freedom to improve health care delivery with innovation, flexibility and local input. You and I believe, and at least two federal courts have confirmed that it’s unconstitutional and wrong for the government to force someone to buy health insurance.”
Paul: “I have received several calls and visits from constituents who, in spite of the heavy investment in their training, have been forced out of the military simply because they were discovered to be homosexual. … To me, this seems like an awful waste. Personal behavior that is disruptive should be subject to military discipline regardless of whether the individual is heterosexual or homosexual. But to discharge an otherwise well-trained, professional, and highly skilled member of the military for these reasons is unfortunate and makes no financial sense.”
Perry On SSM: “We must draw a line in the sand: People have the right to decide for themselves what they will believe in the core of their being, and how they will live. … For those who want to throw stones at homosexuals in the name of calling out sin, may they be just as loud about adultery among heterosexuals and pornography among their own churchgoing friends.”
Romney: “As Governor, I authorized the State Police to enforce immigration laws. I opposed driver’s licenses and in-state tuition for illegal aliens. … As president, I’ll oppose amnesty, cut funding for sanctuary cities and secure our borders.”
Bachmann: “How do you solve it? You build a barrier, a fence, a wall — whatever you want to call it. You build it. … As president of the United States, every mile, every yard, every foot, every inch will be covered on that southern border.”
Perry: “We must say to every Texas child learning in a Texas classroom, `We don’t care where you come from, but where you are going, and we are going to do everything we can to help you get there. … And that vision must include the children of undocumented workers. That’s why Texas took the national lead in allowing such deserving young minds to attend a Texas college at a resident rate. Those young minds are a part of a new generation of leaders; the doors of higher education must be open to them. The message is simple: Educacion es el futuro, y si se puede.”
Creationism in schools is a hot topic as our country debates education reform.
Romney: “In my opinion, the science class is where to teach evolution, or if there are other scientific thoughts that need to be discussed. … If we’re going to talk about more philosophical matters, like why it was created, and was there an intelligent designer behind it, that’s for the religion class or philosophy class or social studies class.”
Bachmann: “I don’t think it’s a good idea for government to come down on one side of scientific issue or another, when there is reasonable doubt on both sides. … I believe the federal government should not be involved in local education to the most minimal possible process.”
Paul: ” The idea that if you don’t believe in evolution means that you don’t believe in a creator is total nonsense. So I think this once again is overly played and we spend too much time on it. And besides, if you’re in politics it shouldn’t be a bother. … When you have government schools it becomes important.”
Perry on Evolution: “It’s a theory that’s out there. … It’s got some gaps in it, but in Texas we teach both creationism and evolution in our public schools, because I figure you’re smart enough to figure out which one is right.”
The national unemployment rate hovers around 9.1 percent as of July, 2011. However, certain groups fare much worse: African Americans face an unemployment rate of 15.9 percent.
Romney: “The indisputable fact is that unemployment benefits, despite a web of regulations, actually serve to discourage some individuals from taking jobs, especially when the benefits extend across years.”
Bachmann: “The President promised if we passed the massive stimulus package that unemployment wouldn’t go above 8 percent, we are now at 9.2 percent. Unfortunately, millions of Americans are suffering today as a result of the president’s broken promise and his policy of attempting to create jobs through massive government spending that has added over 35 percent to our national debt.”
Paul: “There’s a lot of deception, and people sense this. I think they’d rather hear accurate information than to try to be bamboozled into believing things are just hunky dory, when they know there’s a lot of inflation out there… We had too much debt and too much mal-investment and we haven’t dealt with that. When you get too much of that you have to liquidate it. When you get in over your head and you can’t pay the bills, you either have to declare bankruptcy, or work hard, or take a new job. We can see this as an individual or a company, but evidently, our economic theory now, is that governments are exempt from those kind of economic rules.”
Perry: “The fact is, government doesn’t create jobs, otherwise the last 21 / 2 years of stimulus would have worked. … Government can only create the environment that allows the private sector to create jobs. The single most important contributor to our jobs-friendly climate here in Texas is our low tax burden, because we know dollars do far more to create jobs and prosperity in the people’s hands than they do in the government’s.”