David Kemper, 18, a senior at Hickman High School who cast his first ballot in November, said No Child Left Be-hind legislation has caused teachers to worry more about accountability and made school "more about standardized testing and not about education."
For Kemper, foreign policy is the most pressing issue facing the nation. "As far as the war in Iraq is concerned and the state of our union and stability in terms of foreign affairs - we couldn't be worse off right now," he said. "A lot of people are worried about the possibility of a draft regardless of what George Bush says."
Lakresha Parker, 21, said she's worried about cutbacks in Medicaid and hopes Bush will provide better jobs for low-income familes. "I'm not satisfied, but what choice do we have but to adapt," she said.
The mother of two young children works full-time at Walgreen's part time at McDonald's, putting in about 65 hours each week. Parker has been involved in local programs for young parents, but said there isn't enough money to fully support the parenting skills program she attends. "I'm disappointed," she said. "It's hard to raise a family and get enough money to make ends meet."
George and Julia Young
George Young, 41, and his wife, Julia Young, both own their own businesses and said they're excited about President Bush's proposal to offer investment options for Social Security. As they finished breakfast on Tuesday at Lucy's Café, the Youngs said the ability for the family to get funds from Social Security after a family member dies and the poten-tial for them to hire more employees under proposed changes in Social Security are reasons for their support.
Julia Young also said Bush's plan to reform health care is long overdue. Her father is a doctor and she said his in-surance costs went up $25,000 in one year, despite never having a claim. "Health care has gotten so complicated people just throw up their hands," Julia Young said. The Youngs are confident President Bush has a plan to combat problems in the medical industry and they strongly favor his faith-based initiatives.
Katie Sinclair, 22, doesn't think anything positive can come from another four years of Bush's leadership. She takes issue with his policy of not allowing gay marriage and the fact that the U.S. is in Iraq. As she rung up organic chips and bananas for a customer at Clover's Natural Foods, Sinclair said Bush is out of touch with the people and his ac-tions in the international arena reflect a belief that "he isn't proud of the land he is in charge of."
Keith Mason, 53, said the past year was not what Bush promised when he took office four years ago. "I think he came up real short on domestic policy, and I don't agree with his foreign policy. I think we're in a situation where we can't possibly win in Iraq."
Mason said he has serious concerns about the reasons the United States is involved in the war.
"I see it as oil," he said. "I've always thought they planned on dividing Iraq into three parts - regular, unleaded, super. That's what it's all about."
Another big concern for Mason is health care.
"How can we be a country the size we are and spend so much money on prescription medications to the point where people have to actually order their medications from out of the country?" he asked. "We produce all these medications over here, yet our own citizens have to go to another country to get a break on them. It doesn't make sense."
Donald Rose, 56, is a retired senior accountant at MU who is well aware of medical costs, given that he has had a kidney transplant.
"The university has good benefits, so even though I had a transplant, I have good health care," he said. "If I didn't have it from the university, it would be a concern."
Rose's drug bill is $3,500 a month. He also has a 90-year-old father on Medicaid. He said both of them are taken care of, but others are not so lucky. "In my travels, I've talk to older people who really can't retire," he said. "I know a woman who sells jewelry to supplement her income and pay the drug bills."
Rose also expressed concern about the economy and the lack of jobs in the United States.
"Too many jobs are going to foreign countries," he said. "As I see it, there aren't enough workers, there are too many thinkers."