ALAS Hosts Night of Solidarity

Given the fancy foreign tongue of politicians, it's no wonder some voters remain undecided until they actually reach the polling booths. Even those who have been drilled and conditioned to political jargon for years have a hard time following all the details, so for young voters who are new to the scene, keeping up can be almost impossible. Finding a group of informers who are able to breach through this barrier of abstraction and focus on the core issues is a rare gem.

The Santa Monica College Association for Latin American Students (ALAS) gave a comprehensive presentation of all major issues concerning this season's election at the Café Boliviar & Gallery on Friday. Anyone still fuzzy on their politics experienced a rare moment of clarity as members of the group presented slides on topics ranging from the background and campaign goals of Senators McCain and Obama to the 12 California propositions.

The tense mood that usually follows political discussions was cleared out of the air immediately with host Miguel Martinez's light welcome and introduction.

Each topic was presented in bipartisan fashion, objectively laying out both Republican and Democratic angles and explaining what each entailed. To start things off, the presenters gave information about each candidate's background: growing up, education, family history, political experience, etc. Although a wealth of knowledge has been available on their biographies, most of it has been unattainable in a comprehensive manner due to candy coated bias or fancy political lingo.

As if their biographies weren't vague enough, the candidates' agendas are always laden with ambiguous promises and terminology, sprinkling English off with their "pork-barrels," "golden parachutes" and Joe the Plumbers. The members of ALAS helped filter through the white noise and overly complex prose, compiling important key points for the still undecided constituency in attendance.

The California Propositions 1A-12 was also discussed in detail, clearing up the implications behind both pro and con supporters' views. They did a commendable job of maintaining objectivity while explaining some of the ridiculous logic that gets masked by exorbitant rhetoric. "Politics is not unbiased. I think it's very important that we stand up for the ones that are particularly anti-American and anticivil rights," said Christina Preciado, a sociology professor at SMC.

After the presentation, the café held an open mic night for anyone interested in commenting about the present state of affairs in the U.S. The eager and attentive crowd created an inspiring atmosphere for all the speakers. Many expressed their opinions on a wide range of concerns involving the economy, political system, military, education, and the importance of making an impact.

"I believe the troops need to be pulled out of Iraq," said Army veteran Miguel Ferrer, a member of ALAS. "The government spends about $10 billion on the military every year," money he believes could've been used to boost the economy by fixing the education and healthcare systems.

Sociology major Jacky Reyes urged everyone to stay informed and vote: "I really want all of us to be able to do more, because we can make a difference."