With the Republican National Convention making its way to Tampa Bay in August, many local young voters have taken a special interest in politics. However, for Lauren Schenone, senior IB student at King High, politics have been a part of her life as long as she can remember. Heading off to FSU next academic year with plans to major in political science, Schenone dreams of becoming a senior adviser to a candidate, and she's already working toward that goal. She is governor of the Southeast State for the Junior State of America, overseeing more than 800 students from Florida to South Carolina. After watching a GOP presidential debate before the South Carolina primary last week, Schenone talked with tb-two* about her views on the importance of understanding politics, and social media in campaigns.
If you were a candidate, what topic or question would get you the most fired up?
I would personally be the most interested in talking about foreign policy of the United States, mostly dealing with the Middle East. I think it is imperative for our nation to rethink our ideals of American exceptionalism. Currently we are involved in unsustainable patterns of war that have been occurring for the past 30 years. This sort of negative connotation will have ramifications that are detrimental to the security of every American citizen.
What do you look for when watching the candidates answer questions?
When I'm watching a debate usually I know the candidates' positions and policies going into it. I look for how often they use conviction and inflection in their voice and their consistency of policy answers.
I think that debates being on television and being replayed on YouTube has made candidates' stature when listening to another candidate's response crucial. Being consciously aware of gestures is something a candidate should be held accountable for.
Are you getting involved in the Republican convention this August?
Unfortunately I won't be able to attend as it looks right now. It is move-in day at FSU, but this summer I plan on volunteering my time with committees in any way I can help out.
How will the Republican convention raise awareness in Tampa and Florida?
I think it was a smart move on the behalf of the committees who decided to choose Tampa. Not just because it is a beautiful city, but it was more of a strategic move for media coverage. Florida in my opinion will be one of the big swing states, as we always are. This is a state the Republicans will have to work for.
How important is it for young voters to understand politics?
I think it is absolutely imperative and essential that every citizen, whether they are 18 or 88, have a really strong grasp of what the government is doing. Not just in Washington, but in Tallahassee and (other states') capitals.
How has social media changed the dynamics of campaigns?
I think social media has proved a medium for candidates to mobilize. When I worked with the different Ron Paul volunteers in Tampa, we operated off Facebook. When there is a sign waving or rally, that is how we find out.
It can also be a problem, because they are more accountable for what they have said in the past. The speech you made 25 years ago can show up on YouTube.