Many NMU students enjoy video games, “Family Guy” and Taco Bell more than gubernatorial races and delegate counts, but NMU sophomore Mitch Foster would rather talk about politics.
Foster, a 19-year-old NMU student, recently attended the Michigan State Republican Convention in Lansing as the second-youngest delegate. Foster said the experience was a daunting, but rewarding one.
“When I first stepped onto the bus (to go to Lansing) I looked around and I thought ‘this is scary,'” Foster said. “On the first day I was so scared because I was elected a teller to help run the caucus. The second day at the state convention, a lady who had been going down for years took me around and I got introduced to a lot of people involved in the state party and the national party.”
Foster said he got involved in the Republican Party at a young age through his father and grandfather who were both heavily involved in politics in Foster’s home city of Big Rapids.
“My whole family has been Republican, except for my mom. She’s from Rhode Island so she is liberal on a lot of ideas,” Foster said. “My family is business-oriented and most of the ideas that the conservatives have put forth help out the business person.”
Foster was selected for the Republican Convention because of his involvement with the campus Republicans and the Marquette County Republicans. He is also the coordinator for the Michigan Fair Tax Initiative and had actively campaigned in Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign.
Foster said the Michigan Convention is split into two days. The first day consists of dividing into district areas and making decisions for each county’s Republican Party. On the second day of the convention, the delegates decide on the party’s platform and choose representatives for the National Convention in Denver this summer.
“I actually came within two votes of getting nominated to be a national delegate,” Foster said.
Foster is not the only one on NMU’s campus who has been heavily involved in politics throughout this year’s primary elections. With 18-30 year olds making up approximately 25 percent of the eligible voters in the last election, according to the Youth Vote Coalition, members of both parties nationwide are working hard to energize young voters prior to November’s election.
On Northern’s campus, the College Republicans and College Democrats have taken up the task of getting other Northern students involved in the political process.
“Right now our big focus is on voter registration,” said Marcella Krupski, president of the College Democrats at NMU. “We don’t care if they are Republicans or Democrats, we just want as many students registered as possible.”
College Republican President Kyle Bonini echoed Krupski’s comments about the need to energize students on campus and get them active in politics.
“I hope that young voters show up to the polls and vote in record numbers in the 2008 election. I know that both sides, Republican and Democrat, hope for increased participation,” Bonini said.
The NMU College Republicans know they are preparing for a daunting fight if current front-runner Barack Obama, who is attracting the majority of youth support, according to CNN, wins the Democratic nomination. Bonini said he is not yet worried about Obama’s early influence over college-aged voters.
“I think that once students take a look at Senator Obama ,they will gravitate toward Senator McCain because of his years of experience and vision for the future of America,” he said.
Foster said he likes the youth movement being shown in this year’s election and hopes that it brings about changes in the Republican Party in the near future.
“I just want George Bush, John McCain, Dick Cheney, Arlen Spector and all the other old guys to be done,” he said.
Foster added that he still supports McCain as the Republican nominee even though he is a member of the so called “old guard” republicans.
“Republicans saying they aren’t going to vote for John McCain are only hurting the party; a non-vote is a vote, it’s either a vote for Hillary or Obama,” Foster said. “Eventually your vote isn’t going to count and you aren’t going to be in charge at all and then you won’t have any voice.”