Ben Shaffer, President, Yale Democrats

This is the election of our lifetime.

Our generation has more at stake than any other in the choice between a candidate who inspires us to look toward the future and one who remains stubbornly in the past. The choice between a candidate who presents clear policy changes to better our lives and another who follows policies from the bankrupt ideology of the Bush administration.

If your friend at Lehman or Merrill Lynch just lost her job or if your student loans pile up, you know why we need business to play in a regulated field if they expect taxpayers to loan them out of bad decisions. If you are worried about joining the ranks of the uninsured, one-third of whom are between 18 and 24 years old, you know why we need a president committed to universal health care. And if you are worried about our foreign policy, our planet and our jobs of the future, then you know that we need a leader who will push for true energy independence.

On these and many other issues, there could not be a clearer choice. Barack Obama has built a grassroots movement by challenging ordinary citizens to take our country back. John McCain has thrown away his principles to reach to the far right of his party on drilling, tax policy, respect for the constitution and running mates. Obama talks about people and issues because he knows he can improve our lives. McCain talks about character because he has no issues to run on.

McCain’s lobbyist campaign operatives know this and have disingenuously and cynically tried to hijack the idea of change for themselves. It’s not working. The idea that a 28-year incumbent on the wrong side of progress and policy can bring change to Washington instead of a grassroots movement and a candidate who motivates participation and service is laughable.

The difference in the two campaigns is not just in policy or presentation but also in the divergent strategies each employs. McCain uses lies to distract voters and hide his real beliefs. Obama asks us to help him on the ground by knocking on doors, making phone calls and registering voters, and seeking out conversations with those who have been hurt in the last eight years. We have responded forcefully, with 300,000 new registrations in Pennsylvania alone.

Election Day is in 46 days and we who have much to gain and even more to lose must leave nothing to chance. Voters need to be reminded of the real issues and to get out to vote. We can play a vital role in the remainder of this campaign, by going door-to-door in New Hampshire talking to undecideds or by calling the 1.4 million African-American and young voters in Florida who did not vote in 2004.

Our country can do better than it is doing right now. It is imperative we work for the change our country needs.

Matthew Klein, President, Yale College Republicans

Much ink has been spilled over the prospect that Senator Obama will “ignite” the youth vote and pave the way for a new generation of the ultra-leftist politics that “we” supposedly want and need.

Perhaps some of the “youth” may want a future where health care is increasingly administered by the government, where businesses and investment are stifled by some of the highest rates of corporate and capital gains taxation in the developed world, where the national debt becomes so large that our share of the bill could amount to more than $50,000 per person, and where our liabilities for Social Security and Medicare will dwarf the total national wealth of the United States.

It is the senior citizen, Sen. John McCain, who understands this far better than the “young” Obama. McCain has always been a staunch defender of smaller government and bigger individuals. This is not just a powerful articulation of the American dream but also a political philosophy that should appeal to a generation that resents politicians who are remarkably generous in disposing of our money, both now and in the future.

McCain built his record as a reformer and a maverick who was not content to play the Washington game of earmark collection. McCain is committed to balancing the budget, fiscal discipline and reforming the long-term economic imbalances of this nation. His agenda is one of freedom and opportunity.

Instead of taxing and regulating American industry into the dust, McCain wants to revive our historic competitiveness by making the United States the best place in the world to do business. Instead of taking away people’s control of their own health care and giving it to some government bureaucracy, McCain wants every American to be able to shape his own destiny through portable health insurance and Health Savings Accounts. Instead of shamefully and short-sightedly harping about how long it will take to extract oil from within American territory, McCain believes that prudent statesmanship and a concern for the future of this nation demand that we start drilling now.

There is one more thing the youth of this nation ought to care about: making sure that once we have become old and gray America is still a free country in a world of free countries. That is a responsibility not to be taken lightly. McCain knows that when other nations threaten the freedom of their neighbors they are threatening the freedom of all nations. When Russia invaded Georgia, Obama first blamed the Georgians and then decided that the United Nations should handle the situation until his advisers helpfully informed him that Russia has a veto on the U.N. Security Council. That is not the kind of individual we can afford to have leading this nation. John McCain is the man we need.