Election 2012: Listen To Me

As Election Day approaches, SU students and Syracuse-area voters say the economy tops their concerns.

Syracuse University students and area voters joined a chorus of other U.S. citizens by focusing on economic concerns as the presidential campaign heads into its final days.

The NewsHouse talked with dozens of SU students and local voters in upstate New York about their priorities, the political system and what may influence their decisions at the voting booth. The interviews were produced in conjunction with PBS NewsHour's "Listen to Me" project.

Nearly all the respondents expressed frustration with the recovery efforts underway to improve country’s economy, saying presidential candidates’ plans to revitalize the nation’s economy would be key to winning the election. Several cited the downturn in the U.S. economy as being the driving force behind the elevated unemployment rate, inequality in providing education and inadequate healthcare services.

 “We have outsourced our production basically to countries that have cheap labor. So things that were built in the United States are now being built in places where people earn a couple of dollars a day such as China and India,” said Bruce Cudworth, an SU student who is also a part-time English teacher. “Our economy has been restructured. Those high-paying manufacturing jobs cannot come back — they will never come back. We have to reinvent ourselves."

Another SU student, Anne Marie Suchanek, said the state of the economy has taken a toll on college students.

“Tuition is a small fortune, or actually a large fortune, to afford," she said. "There are a lot of times where I have to stop eating food just to afford rent, to afford text books or any other expenses.”

Voters had considerable concern about the country's political system, especially regarding large amounts of money pouring into campaigns from anonymous donors.

“Americans have become very cynical about the elections when they don’t really know where the money is flowing and when the corporations, unions and special interest groups have an unfettered ability to dominate and give cash to the candidates,” said SU student Maggie Suter.

Syracuse area voter Nicholas Yerkes described the political system as “top-heavy” and “run by people who may not be the real representatives for their areas."

Syracuse voter Daisy Fried said the basis structure of the U.S. government is good if it has right leadership.

“I do not think the political system is broken,” Fried said, adding: “All the pieces are still there. I think the basic structure of our government is good. It is what the people do with the structure that is the problem.” 

For more on the Listen to Me Project, visit PBS NewsHour.

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