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KItzmann column: Political advice from a 15-year-old: Be informed

It may have occurred to you that I have not yet written very much about politics. This was intentional, as I don't personally believe that anybody in his right mind would take political advice from a 15-year-old.

However, the presidential race, especially within the Democratic Party, is becoming enticingly contentious and intense. So much so, in fact, that I simply cannot resist putting my 2 cents worth into the rather pressing issue of who is going to be America's next president.

In spite of the fact that I won't be able to legally vote until the next presidential election, I have followed this one very closely, ironically more closely than many people I know who will be voting this year. I've shared in the joys and sorrows of every candidate, and watched as the choices were gradually whittled down to three very different people.

On the Republican side, we have John McCain, who has secured the Republican nomination. I am actually rather glad that he was given the nomination as opposed to his arch rival, a multi-millionaire business owner by the name of Mitt Romney.

Romney, for better or worse, was and is your classic conservative politician; suave, clean cut and always, always bearing a perfectly symmetrical, toothy grin.

McCain, on the other hand, seems to have substance. He doesn't appear to be particularly wealthy (which for some reason or another is an appeal to me), and has lived a very exciting and productive life. He joined the army as a young lad, was nearly killed numerous times while overseas, and has since slowly ascended the ladder of political position.

He is, if you will, the "safest" choice of the three potential candidates left, due to his extensive political and life experiences. Ironically, he actually might pick our own governor, Tim Pawlenty, as his potential running mate.

That would mean that if McCain were to die in office, which is certainly a possibility, we would be faced with the reality of having Tim Pawlenty as the next president of the United States.

I don't know if such a situation would be beneficial to our country, but it would definitely be an interesting change. When asked whether she was comfortable with the idea of Tim Pawlenty as the next president of the United States of America, my mother succinctly replied, "I think we've all seen paw-lenty of him."

Although the Republican nomination is settled, we have quite enough political contest on the Democratic side of the spectrum to keep even the most conflict-demanding citizen good and happy. It is still impossible to say exactly who, when the dust settles, will emerge from this vicious brawl a victor.

We have two very different people, neither of whom are your garden-variety presidential candidate, vying for the best -- or worst, depending on your perspective, occupation on this earth.

On one hand, we have a relatively young, rail thin, African-American, Harvard educated lawyer named Barack Obama. His doctrine is simple, inspiring, if not somewhat ambiguous, and can in fact be summarized in 3 words: "yes we can."

Those three words (along with "change"), and his natural charisma have catapulted him to the front of the Democratic race, and are continuing to enthuse millions of supporters across the country. Besides having public-speaking skills on his side, this gentleman also happens to have acquired the help of legendary speechwriter Ted Sorenson, who actually wrote many of John F. Kennedy's speeches.

From my perspective, Obama seems to have vast majority of the media on his side, which, believe me, is a considerable advantage. All types of celebrities, from Oprah Winfrey to Stephen King, have announced their intention to vote for Barack Obama come November.

On the other hand, we have a no-nonsense, former first lady mom-figure by the name of Hillary Clinton. Claiming to have more experience than Obama, and also criticizing him for preaching empty rhetoric, Clinton has gained the support and respect of a large portion of America's Democratic population.

I feel that her basic philosophy can be summarized in a phrase, loosely quoted, that she used during a debate some time ago: "it took one Clinton to clean up America after the first Bush, and it's going to take another to clean up after the second." That platform, along with the fact that she is a woman (which simple fact has brought her endless support from the women of America), have made Clinton a very popular Democratic Candidate. In fact, the candidates are quite close in terms of delegates, although Barack Obama is winning at this point.

In conclusion, I urge you not only to vote, but to become well acquainted with the politicians of any race in which you vote -- local, state or national. You have to look beyond who other people, either friends or favorite celebrities, are endorsing and instead enlighten yourself as to what the candidates' actual positions and qualifications are.

That is advice you can take from a 15-year-old.

Nathan Kitzmann is a freshman and is homeschooled.