Learn more about PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs here.
On Dec. 19, 2019, PBS NewsHour and Politico hosted a Democratic presidential debate at Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles. While all of the other Democratic debates of 2019 had the candidates debating on who has the best ideas for domestic and foreign policy, the PBS NewsHour POLITICO Democratic Debate had something very special happening behind the scenes that I am very thankful to have been a part of. That special aspect was the passion of the students who attended the PBS Student Reporting Labs watch party on the LMU campus, just steps away from the debate stage.
For me, the debate was a once-in-a-lifetime experience. I had never been able to watch a debate in its entirety, so to be able to watch a complete presidential debate while being so close was amazing. But the most incredible part was that I was able to experience this with other students like me. To know that other students are passionate about politics and to have an educated talk with them was amazing. I am glad that I had those discussions with others since now, I am more open about all of the Democratic candidates and what they have to offer. On the car ride home, I spoke with my father about each of the candidates, their pros and cons, and which candidate was the best overall. Without discussing with other students about pressing issues such as gun control and Medicare, I wouldn’t have been able to have such a talk with my father. To be a part of the energy in the room, the passion in the youths’ voices, and to gain knowledge were some of the best experiences in my life.
Watch a video of the event featuring SRL students below.
“SRL students go behind the scenes of the NewsHour POLITICO #DemDebate”
When the candidates were announced, the air roared with cheers as Bernie Sanders was named, but the cheers weren’t as energetic when Tom Steyer and Pete Buttigieg were announced. Throughout the debate, everyone was mesmerized by what each candidate was saying and when students agreed with something that was said, there were cheers and applause. Likewise, when students disagreed, discussion ensued. Overall, all the youth were engaged in the discussion of the debate, especially when all the students knew that they would become voters soon and would make their voices heard.
Events like this one give us the chance to learn and understand how each issue affects us. They also help students understand where they fall on the political spectrum and to express what they believe is important in domestic and foreign policy. Most importantly, viewing parties allow for educational discovery; they humanize issues by showing people who are affected by them.
Being a part of the PBS NewsHour Student Reporting Labs viewing party was a memorable, fun and exciting experience. I learned a lot about each candidate and how other students feel about the candidates as well. It was fun to be in the moment with everyone else as we watched, thought and discussed. It truly was an experience I wish to repeat. I saw so much passion and excitement from the next wave of voters as every student in the room seemed almost ready to head to their local polling stations to cast their votes. This encourages me because it shows that the future of U.S. politics will become youth-dominated and full of change. While a good number of students and I are not able to vote yet, everyone in that room is now ready to let their voices be heard and make positive changes to the United States of America.