Macalester students attended a Get Out the Vote event held at the University of Minnesota last Friday that featured former President Bill Clinton. In addition, Senators Amy Klobuchar and Al Franken and Governor Mark Dayton all gave speeches encouraging voter turnout.
The “MN Votes Early” event featured multiple speakers aiming to raise awareness about Franken and Dayton’s achievements during their respective terms and their goals for the future, if they are re-elected.
Ashley Dunn ’17, a Mac Dems co-chair, said in an email, “The goal of the event was to get out the vote, and we gave tickets to people who took actions to make sure students vote.” Students were given tickets if they registered to vote, volunteered to register people or if they could get a friend to fill out a registration form. According to Dunn, the Mac Dems gave away between 65 and 75 tickets.
Clinton’s speech focused on why he believes the DFL candidates should be re-elected this November. (Dayton and Franken are both running for second terms.)
“Their priorities for tomorrow are straight,” Clinton said. “One of the reasons you should vote for them is that they are evidence-based politicians.”
“I think you ought to vote for Dayton because I think it’s a good thing to have universal preschool in Minnesota. I’m grateful that the governor got the minimum wage increased and I am grateful that Senators Klobuchar and Franken are trying to do the same in Washington. There hasn’t been a single time, in my personal experience, when raising the minimum wage did not help the economy. [It] could help as many as 30 million workers if we did it nationally. It’s a no-brainer.”
Clinton praised Minnesota for its advances in social equality and entrepreneurship.
“I’m here because Minnesota has led America for decades in education. Minnesota has led in the provision and cost of healthcare and now the rest of the country is catching up. I want to see you keep doing that,” Clinton said.
Franken and Dayton spoke about the rising cost of college.
“Students are graduating with mountains of debt,” Franken said. “This debt stops people from building their lives. It keeps them from buying homes, starting a family, starting a business. They can’t reach for anything big because all that debt is weighing them down. They can’t afford to take a chance on themselves. If you care about the country’s future, this is a national crisis.”
Franken described the actions he has been taking to reduce this cost for students. “I’m working to make sure big banks don’t rip you off if you decide to take out a private loan. That’s why I’ve introduced legislation with Elizabeth Warren to allow people to refinance their student loans, just like you can refinance the mortgage on your home or car.”
Dayton echoed Franken’s sentiments. “When I took office, state support for higher education was the lowest it had been since 1981. The DFL and myself have increased funding for higher education by $240 million,” Dayton said. “We also froze tuition at the U of M and other state schools. It’s not enough, but it’s a good beginning. To bring back a DFL House and a DFL governor will guarantee the increase of support for higher education.”
Each speech stressed how important a single vote can be and strongly encouraged everybody to vote. Dayton explained that “this election is an off-presidential election year and people don’t vote because they’re not as excited about the ticket.”
The election is in 18 days and Mac Dems is trying to focus on driving campus turnout.
“We’ve been doing a lot of tabling, a lot of student contact, a lot of encouraging people to let their friends know about the election,” Dunn said. “It is a midterm, but there are so many important issues at stake this election. We want to make sure every Macalester student votes, whether in their home state or here in Minnesota.”
“This event definitely motivated me to vote. It’s a very good opportunity for young people to start learning about how much their vote matters,” said Elida Zaldivar ’18, after the event.
“We cannot build a country with a coherent policy and a coherent future if we have two different Americas showing up depending on whether there is a presidential election on the ballot. You can change that,” Clinton said. “The only thing that makes sense is to build a future that we can all share. The job of every citizen is to define the terms upon which we will share this future. We will go down or up together. I prefer up, but I have no ‘up’ vote in Minnesota. You do.”