NPR from a Panelist’s Point of View

Posted: November 11, 2015 | By: Iowa Caucus Project Staff Tagged: Blog

With a live band opening, the NPR series “Michel Martin: Going There,” kicked off the debate week festivities at Drake University. As Myrna Johnson, Iowa Public Radio executive director, said, “You guys are the center of the universe with politics.” The show, entitled Youth Voting Myths and Facts, discussed issues, the definition of youth, and told the story of how Drake students (and alumni) were involved in politics. Listen to the All Things Considered story on the event here.

NPR Presents Michel Martin Photo by Skylar Borchardt

NPR Presents “Michel Martin: Going There” on Nov. 9. Photo by Skylar Borchardt

Martin, weekend host of ATC, led the discussion with questions for each panelist and read questions from the live audience. The dynamic of a live-radio show is something unlike anything I’ve experienced before. Panelists were forced to use expression in their voice to convey their message as opposed to body language.

Panel member Raymond Starks, a senior politics and quantitative economics major, was the Republican on the panel. Starks noted as a live radio show, “It was mildly terrifying, but you kind of get a bit of an adrenaline rush when you know people aren’t going to like what you have to say.”

The panel attempted to define the “youth voting bloc.” Professor Rachel Paine Caufield noted young voters as people under the age of 30. Panelist Brandi Dye, a sophomore at Drake, was hard-pressed to see someone at age 30 considered a “youth voter.” Dye admittedly supports Bernie Sanders and jokingly added, “If Donald Trump wins, I want to be able to complain.” Starks believes in two youth voting demographics, the first, “those who have experienced life between the two wars and recession,” and the second, “the generation who came of age after Obama was inaugurated.”

The third panelist was Hector Salamanca Arroyo, a Drake graduate who a recipient of DACA (Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals). Martin turned the focus of the panel to issues, and Hector raised the issue of immigration. After the panel Starks said, “Immigration is essential for the next president. I wish we could have talked about it more.” Noting he has different reasons than Salamanca, who cannot yet vote, but, “Two people can arrive at the same conclusion with 10 different premises”

Starks believes foreign policy and banking reform versus college affordability and more social issues define two types of youth voters. Starks acknowledged most youth voters are seen as liberal voters, and he is not, as he actively supports Jeb Bush for president.

Starks worked on the 2012 Romney presidential campaign, and then “was a Democrat for a good year” but later returned to the Republican Party. “I always knew I was more socially liberal than my party. I don’t agree with my party on social issues … I wanted to agree with the people that agreed with me 70 percent of the time rather than 30 percent.”

NPR was monitoring the event though a Twitter chat with #NPRYouthVote. When Starks finished the panel at the end of the night, he was nervous to even look at his Twitter notifications. Good thing Twitter stops counting after 20 new alerts. It is one clear example of just how important the caucuses are. Martin even added, “I wish I could caucus. We need involved and informed voters.”

IMG_1494Borchardt is a junior studying political science and law, politics, and society from Litchfield, Minnesota. This summer he interned in the office of U.S. Senator Al Franken (D-MN) and was the recipient of the Harkin Institute D.C. Experience Scholarship. He enjoys politics, Minnesota sports and playing his guitar. Follow him on Twitter.