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Getting the Groove of Politics

David Stickney

David Stickney got actively involved in politics for the first time in the presidential election in 2008

By Passang Norbu

As a kid, David Stickney didn’t have much interest in politics, except for the large majorities that represented victory in presidential elections.

“I would be amazed by the results, but my dad always told me that the numbers were fake, and my mom, who supported the Democrats, disagreed,” Stickney said, chuckling as he remembered.

Stickney grew up in Missoula, Mont., a typical American boy, riding his bicycle with his neighborhood buddies, playing tag in the park and getting swept up in games of squares, wall ball, and water fights.

He enjoyed playing the drums and hoped to attend a good music school and be a professional musician like his father.

However, unable to concentrate on his studies like other students, he was home-schooled from grad 5-12.

“Politics was stressful to me during these days,” he said.

Election year 2008 proved to be a very different experience for the 21-year-old who works at the Food Zoo, a cafeteria restaurant at the University of Montana’s Missoula campus.

With his mother, he went out campaigning for the Democratic candidate, Barack Obama.

They started knocking on doors of apartments near the YMCA on Missoula’s Russell Street, to convince people to vote for Obama.

Most people had already made their decision, so they tried to get rid of the canvassers as quickly as possible, Stickney said.

“From the 30 small apartments, a few slammed their doors on us and one guy actually yelled at us, saying things about veterans, the war and Muslims.“

Before the elections, Stickney had started an informal group where he and his friends exchanged information about issues that they cared about.

“We really liked the idea David came up with,” said his childhood friend, Dwayne. “David has the will and is capable of finding ways for anything that interests him.”

Stickney said he voted for Obama because he appreciated his ideas on foreign policy, the Iraq war and his support for science innovation.

“Basically, I didn’t want to see a repeat of Bush who looks more into religion,” he said.

Dreaming himself ahead by ten years, Stickney hopes to be a drummer in a rock band, traveling on concert tours, while still being actively involved in politics and community issues.

Asked whether he would change his mind if he could cast his vote again, Stickney said that he would still vote for Obama.

“I just think a citizen has to do more than just vote,” he said. “One has to continue to struggle to create the fundamental change that’s needed, but most Americans, especially the youth, just cast their ballot and then forget about it.”

Lowering the Lens

Return to Young Voter Portraits

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