Young Americans key to 2004 election

The power of citizens in government is much like using a lava lamp.

At least that's what Patrick Haggerty, a press secretary to three members of Congress and adviser to four presidential campaigns, believes. During his speech Monday night he spoke on how America's greatness could only be maintained by participation of its citizens.

"I'm not going to tell you who to vote for, but I will tell you to vote, and I will tell you to get involved," Haggerty said. "Your power of government is cold and inert, like a lava lamp (turned off), when you don't use it."

To ensure he would be considered non-partisan, Haggerty put both John Kerry (D-Mass.) and President Bush stickers on his blazer before his speech. He gave several examples describing why he believed America is great.

For example, he said, last year Americans gave $241 billion to philanthropic causes, of which 85 percent came from individuals, not businesses. He spoke of the rebuilding efforts in the south after the Civil War and in Germany after World War II.

He called 9/11, "another Fourth of July," saying the day, although tragic, had reemphasized unity among Americans.

He also spoke of the enterprise in American society, noting that airplanes, the interstate highway system and television were results of American creativity.

Haggerty told the story of his father, who worked his way through college and sent all of his nine children to private school and college.

Haggerty emphasized the importance of voting among college-age students. He said 30 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds vote, compared with 70 percent of people 55 years and older. If there were more young voters, Haggerty said, they would have more say in the political process.

"Legislators have one item on their agenda — get re-elected," Haggerty said. "We the people control their entire agenda."

Also, additional young voters may determine the results of the presidential election. In the 2000 election, Haggerty said, five states were determined by less than 1 percent.

He believes that this year, the election's main issue is the war in Iraq.

"Elections are referenda on the incumbent," Haggerty said. He said if voters believed Bush had done a good job in Iraq and other issues, Bush would be re-elected. If voters believed Bush had done a bad job on Iraq and other issues, Kerry would be elected.

Students at the presentation said they liked Haggerty's speech.

"He was able to stay neutral and give the facts without giving his views," said J.J. Pauly, a freshman in the College of Arts and Sciences who plans to vote for Bush.

Jessica Keber, a junior in the College of Health Sciences who said she was leaning toward voting for Kerry, agreed.

"He showed how much difference we can make," Keber said.

Haggerty has many connections to Marquette. His father, uncle, and five of his eight siblings went to Marquette, although he did not. Haggerty Hall, Haggerty House and the Haggerty Museum of Art are named after his relatives.

The speech was sponsored by Marquette Student Government, College Republicans, College Democrats and New Voters Project.