Looking through his candy-red sunglasses into the face of an early Saturday November afternoon interview, 18-year-old Andy Ruether reflected on this year’s Election Day — the first in which he and many other CSU students will have the opportunity to vote.
With students like Ruether, a freshman regular at the graffiti-soaked smoker’s table outside Edwards Hall, showing up at the polls today, the youth voter turnout is nationally expected to reach record numbers.
And though Ruether admits to not being the most politically inclined, he said he has a strong sense of what he feels is right.
Working for the Associated Students of CSU upon arriving in Fort Collins this year, Ruether said that he “wasn’t super excited” to vote and encourage other students to vote for the first time but kept his politically-involved job simply because he wanted to “do something instead of smoking pot.”
He registered to vote in his hometown of St. Louis, Mo. the day after his birthday in mid-February of this year.
“I didn’t really look forward to it or anything, but I guess I was kind of excited to register,” he said, adding that the allure was the access to a once un-owned privilege –“just one of those things” you can do after turning 18.
Nonetheless, after arriving at CSU, Ruether said he registered locally to join the ranks of the close to 27,000 18 to 24 year-olds who are registered to vote in Larimer County this year.
“I don’t mind Obama,” he said, explaining that he wasn’t happy with either candidate. “But McCain’s probably going to die in office,” he said with a laugh.
Ruether said that he came and saw Obama at CSU last week and liked what he has had to say about higher education. Born into a family of who he called “psycho conservatives,” Ruether, a pro-choice and left-leaning teenager, left home and moved west partly due to a love of snowboarding but primarily to study English literature.
When he registered, Ruether listed himself a Libertarian, and he described himself as a “strong, strong socialist.”
“I wanted to (register) in a hurry so I wouldn’t forget,” he said.
He said that although his stepfather “wants to like . kill Obama,” his father is a construction worker who has led him to be pro-union and “all for the workers.”
Ruether said he looked for work shortly after settling in Fort Collins, which led him to ASCSU and a job promoting the student vote.
“I would really get a lot of resistance,” he said.
“As soon as he saw my clipboard, some kid at the [Academic Village] threw some empty cup at me. . Then by Clark, I’d get so many dirty glares. I thought I’d get shot,” he said.
Obama was the most desired candidate in the small group of young liberals who shared the smoke break with Ruether on that sunny Saturday.
California native and 18-year-old fashion design major Rachel Bishop said she likes Obama’s promises of change, admittedly not knowing the details of that promise.
She said she comes from a family of liberal Democrats, which has led her to often disagree with Republican policy.
“I was f***ing pissed when Bush got re-elected,” she said, proud of her recently acquired ability to cast her vote for the country’s next leader.
Bishop said that “McCain equals Bush” in terms of foreign policy and that we should get out of Iraq.
She also said that she feels the economic depression weighs heavily on Bush’s shoulders. A consensus was reached between she and Ruether that the Republican Party image appears negative.
“But the most impressive man in the world is Dick Cheney,” Ruether said with a smile. “He’s got the world on a string. He’s like . snaky.”
Elections Beat Reporter Trevor Simonton can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.