Project D.E.E.P. (the Dorchester Educational Enrichment Program) recently asked its students to analyze the 2008 presidential election and then propose a list of priorities for the new president. In short, the children were asked to answer two divergent questions: Why did Barack Obama win the election? And what should he do first while in office?
The responses, in essay form, were surprisingly sharp, revealing that many of our children might be more aware of politics than you might think. The three essays which were judged to be the finest appear here.
Restoring the American people's faith in government
By Molly Salas
Grade 5 - Richard J. Murphy School
Barack Obama defeated John McCain by a landslide, partly because of the support of his slogan "Change can happen." During the campaign, President Bush had lost the faith of the American people. There is a big economic crisis going on in our nation, which brought negative press to Mr. Bush. Many people feel that President Bush made too many bad choices for our economy. John McCain, like Bush, is a Republican, and voters did not want another president like George W. Bush.
The slogan "Change can happen" gives Americans hope that the economy will turn around, the war will be over, and life in America can be peaceful and safe. Mr. Obama's plan for a better economy will create new jobs and give tax cuts to middle-class citizens. When Barack Obama made his numerous speeches, he gave voters the feeling that better things will happen if he were elected president.
During his campaign, Barack Obama appealed more to women, African-Americans, Hispanics and the youth of America. Mr. Obama supports equal pay for equal work, which means that women and minorities can challenge the workplace for pay discrimination if they feel that they are not being paid fairly. President Obama also plans on using the Fair Pay Act to make sure women get paid the same as men when doing the same job. Obama and Biden will be working on the end of racial profiling and harder punishments for hate crimes. Mr. Obama had great support from African-Americans because they felt that it was time to have support for them in the White House.
For the youth of America, Obama plans to make colleges more affordable, so that people who would not have been able to afford to go to college will be able to save up to go. Obama also appealed to the youth of America by restoring the importance of public service to young Americans. They can now bring back the ethic values of serving their communities, as teachers, first responders or in the military, which will help make the United States a better place to live.
Barack Obama appealed greatly to the middle-class. These are the families that work hard and are still struggling to make ends meet or to save money. The "Making Work Pay" tax cut will give working Americans a fair tax code and a tax credit to families. He will also work to make minimum wage $9.50 per hour by the year 2011 and help with more sick leave in the work place. Another way President Obama will help families is by expanding the Family and Medical Leave Act. This will change the law so that companies with twenty-five or more employees will be covered instead of just companies with fifty or more employees. This will give employees time to be able to care for sick children or even elderly family members. Mr. Obama also cares about the affordability of child care and plans on having a tax credit for people who use child care. Barack Obama is a dad to two young children, and he understands the importance of helping families that want to give their children the best life they can have.
In one of his speeches Barack Obama quoted a former president from seventy-five years ago. Franklin Roosevelt said, "Faith in America, faith in our tradition of personal responsibility, faith in our institutions, and faith in ourselves demands that we all recognize the new terms of the old social contract." Mr. Obama used this quote to tell the American people that it is time again to restore our faith. With the tough economic times, people are feeling scared about the future. Obama wants to restore confidence in America's stock markets. It is important to Obama to create more jobs in America, to support fair trade, and to help with taxes for senior citizens. Obama wants to invest fifty billion dollars to jump start the economy and keep jobs for one million Americans. He also plans on giving a $1,000 emergency energy rebate to Americans. This is an attractive rebate to the many struggling citizens who have a hard time paying for their energy bills. Mr. Obama's economic plan will help Americans feel hopeful about the future of their hard-earned money.
Voting in the presidential election is an important part of being an American citizen. To have the right to vote for many minorities, including women, is something that was fought hard for. Every person in our country who is eighteen and over should vote. Obama appealed to these minorities and women. By promising change he gave the people of America a new hope. Barack Obama's calm, strong and solid character is a trait that helps people feel safe. It is no wonder that Mr. Obama won the election and made history in the year 2008. Yes, change really can happen.
By Breena Baird
Grade 5 - St. Brendan's School
Was this election about young versus old? Or was it about new ideas versus old ideas? Barack Obama wanted change for this country, and John McCain wanted to follow President George W. Bush's ideas. Fifty-two percent of the people who voted wanted change, so they voted for Barack Obama.
Barack Obama came out on top in the presidential election because people wanted to make 2008 a historic year. He was a good speaker, and people were looking for change. Also, people wanted Obama to be the first African-American to be elected president.
Obama did a good job picking his vice president, and it must have been extremely tough. There are others whom Obama could have picked, and they would have done well too, but he picked Joe Biden because he has a lot of experience from being a senator for many years. Also, many people believed that Obama is weak with foreign affair issues, and Vice President Biden has experience in this area.
Now that Obama is president, he should continue to address the economy, especially the crashing of the financial markets and the three big automobile manufacturers (Ford, GM, and Chrysler) who are on the verge of bankruptcy. Thousands of people are losing their homes due to foreclosures, and others are losing their jobs because of the poor economy. To handle this issue, Barack Obama should give large loans to the banks and the three large car manufacturers in order to stop the collapse of these companies. Also, to stop foreclosures from continuing, he should assist struggling homeowners with their mortgage debt.
Obama looks confident on the outside and seems confident on the inside. The whole U.S. is convinced by his hard work that he will keep his promises and do his big share for this country. We hope he knows what he is doing and makes good, fair decisions for the United States, because after all, he did make 2008 a historic year.
Ending the war is job one
By Brenna McCarthy
Grade 6 - Boston Collegiate Charter School
The 2008 presidential election was going to make history no matter who won. Had Senator McCain won, we would have had our first female Vice President. With Obama's victory, he has become the first African-American to be elected President of the United States. Both candidates campaigned well, but in the end Obama won because people believed in what he said. He has great ideas concerning big issues such as the War in Iraq.
Barack Obama is a well-spoken man who is realistic in his promises. People have an easy time relating to him because he is not like a lot of the other politicians in Washington, D.C. Obama grew up in a lower-class community and used education to improve himself. Americans like his patriotism and dedication to the country. President Obama truly believes in improving America for all of its people. He gives people hope that the future will be better, and he displays confidence in the American people. This helps people to feel like they are a part of all the changes Obama plans to make.
The first issue President Obama should deal with is the War in Iraq. The war is not only costing billions of dollars, but it is also costing many American soldiers their lives. The money that is being used to buy supplies such as bombs, helicopters and guns, could be used to help our struggling economy. The war has also increased tensions between the U.S. and foreign countries that do not think the United States should be in Iraq.
Barack Obama should gradually pull the troops out of Iraq. We need to make sure that the new Iraqi government can run smoothly on its own with us gone. That is why he cannot pull all of the troops out at once. He will have to be skilled at dealing with other nations. The U.S. must mend their relationships with foreign countries that are upset with our presence in Iraq. Americans are frustrated with the amount of money that is going into the war, and they wish that their tax money would be used more efficiently. Obama should take the money that is being spent on the war and put it towards education, healthcare, and the economy.
There will be many challenges that President Obama will face as he enters into office. He will have to make key decisions that will affect the country for years to come. With all of the current issues in our country and in the world, Barack Obama will be tested and hopefully he will rise to the challenge. The Americans picked Obama because they believe he will be able to lead us into a brighter future, and over the next four years we will be able to see just how much Obama can do to change our country.