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Potent Politics

Anicka Kratina-Hathaway

By Neil LaRubbio

Jerry Johnson Hot Springs is a place of mystical beauty created by a natural series of thermal pools just across the southwestern Montana border in Idaho.

This is where Anicka Kratina-Hathaway chose to spend the first half of Election Day last year. As the warm vapors rose, nothing but placid wilderness surrounded her.

Nature is a place of peace and constructive detachment for the 23-year-old. But on Nov. 4, 2008, she felt a duty to be involved and informed.  There was a national election unfolding – a historical one in which America could give power to its first black president.

Kratina-Hathaway returned home to Missoula later that afternoon.  Since she lived without a television, she weathered the frigid November air and rode her bike to the university commons, to reconnect to the world of mass media and witness the results of the election.

She remembers being inspired at the time. “A lot of young people were really excited about Obama, so I think I got caught up in that because I was on campus,” she said.

“But really, I don’t know what I feel about him,” she added.  “There was always something like he wasn’t exactly the one.”

Standing in line at the courthouse

Weeks before Election Day, Kratina-Hathaway had stood in line at the Missoula County courthouse, waiting to cast her vote.  People were packed inside the 2nd floor office, queuing through a maze of desks and county employees.  The line spilled out into the hall and down the stairwell.

As soon as her vote for Obama was cast, she walked down to the Kettlehouse Brewery for a beer.  She watched images flash over the TV screen and nuzzled down into her beverage with small relief, swearing that if Obama made things any worse, she would emigrate to Canada.

It had taken her a while to settle on Obama as a candidate. At the beginning of the Democratic primaries, she had been more impressed by Rep. Dennis Kucinich from Ohio. But whom she truly preferred was Hillary Clinton.

“Honesty, initially, I was going for Hillary, because she’s a woman and I’m a woman and I feel women should finally get the chance to be in power.  And I felt that she was a more genuine candidate than Obama,” she said.

Growing up liberal in a conservative town

Kratina-Hathaway grew up in Miles City, but her circumstances differed from most other kids in the conservative Eastern Montana town. Her parents are liberal Democrats, both active in government and non-profit work, and their mindset has largely shaped their daughter’s political opinions.

About her position on the political scene, she said, “I’m young.  I just graduated, and I don’t want to be associated with anything.”

Among her close-knit group of friends, she is the intrepid naturalist.  After graduating college in May of 2009, she left the metro-world of Missoula for the forests of Glacier National Park.  She worked for the Glacier Institute, teaching ecological biology classes to students from across the United States.  She began her work in May, detached from modern technologies and high-speed communication networks.

After an upcoming trip to Central America, Kratina-Hathaway hopes to return to the United States invigorated and ready to be involved.  She wants to earn a Ph.D. in biology and teach at the collegiate level.

Her upbringing has helped her to question the status quo.  Speaking about Obama’s worth as a president compared to when he was elected, she said: “He is so nervous to disagree with the Republicans that he’s willing to compromise on almost everything.  I feel almost as though he wasn’t the genuine man that we were thinking he was.”

She thinks that young people may have been disheartened by his compromises. “Initially everything is exciting,” she said. “It’s new, and then it fades out.”

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