Ford encourages students to vote

Rhiannon Adams

Chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council and former congressman Harold Ford Jr.’s message last Wednesday in Alumni Hall was that everyone in the country is just the same. Everyone wants to listen and vote to ensure that the country works in the best ways possible.

He asked the audience, “Which one of these people running [for president] makes you the most comfortable?” He told the audience to vote for that person and to put race and gender aside, for what matters is that an individual’s pick for president has the right mindset and the right vision.

“I stand for opportunity; that is why I am a democrat,” said Ford.

In light of Senator Barak Obama’s success on Super Tuesday and Black History Month, Quinnipiac invited former congressman, Harold Ford Jr. to speak.

Like Obama, this young, black, known political name, successfully became involved in the political world predominately run by caucasians.

President John Lahey and director of multicultural affairs, Tyronne Black, introduced and offered a background of the politician. Breaking onto the major political scene at the very young age of 26, he was elected as a Tennessee congressman. According to the Quinnipiac website, during his time in office, Ford “served on the House committees for the budget, financial services, and education and workforce, and was a member of the New Democratic Coalition and the Congressional Black Caucus.

From the start of Ford’s lecture, it was evident (based on smiles and enthusiastic applause throughout the audience) that he charismatically charmed the Quinnipiac students, faculty and supporters in the crowd. “I love y’alls school,” he stated in his southern drawl. “Polite, entertaining and knowledgeable” were words used to describe the politician from the audience.

The basis of Ford’s lecture was the importance of involvement. He spoke of a student at Quinnipiac who told Ford that he was the future of this country. “They teach them well here,” he stated to applause and laughter.

When Ford first ran for the Tennessee seat, he had little success finding support in the community. It was not until his second grade teacher approached him that he had been offered any invitations to speak at events. She had booked him 32 graduations-kindergarten graduations, that is.

He had received immense criticism throughout the election, but after he started speaking at these graduations, the tides began to turn. People appreciated his support for the children and his genuine nature. “What advice do I have for people getting involved,” he said, “You never know when a chance or opportunity can turn into something matter how unconventional it may seem.”

He continued to speak on how the country may be in need of just that: something unconventional. Like Obama, Ford believes that we are in a time of necessary change. He believes the next president should focus their agenda on three main issues:

The next president must reduce the country’s dependency on overseas’ oil. The world is quickly running out, so it is time for the world to discover alternative, greener sources of energy.

He or she should focus on better education. It is capital that children are ensured a positive environment to grow and learn in.

The country is currently not in a prime standing internationally. The next president must restore the country’s standing around the globe.

Ford told another personal story of his political campaign. On his way to his office, Ford always passed the Little Rebel Bar and Grille. He described the place as small with around eight cars donning George Bush bumper stickers parked out front and a confederate flag hanging in the window. As a democrat, Ford did not feel completely comfortable with the place, yet, one day, he had a feeling that he should stop in and see what the regulars had to say about the campaign. Ford considers conversing with the other side of the political spectrum to be of great importance when running for office, but he was almost positive that they would rush him out of the establishment. Surprisingly, he was welcomed, hugged and praised.

The people of the Little Rebel bar and Grille had been following the election and did want to hear what he had to say. They appreciated his willingness to stop by and converse with them like equals and next to their Bush stickers, they allowed Ford to place his campaign stickers on their pickup trucks.