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Congressman Rush Holt talks to the VOICE about the issues that affect students most

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Driving around town you may have seen green and black bumper stickers that read “RUSH HOLT” and in smaller writing “My congressman IS a rocket scientist,” but an unscientific survey suggests Mercer students know little about the man who represents their interests in congress.

Holt is a Democratic congressman who has been the representative of New Jersey’s twelfth district (of which MCCC is a part) for the last ten years. He comes from a family of politicians, his father having been the youngest person ever elected to the senate and his mother was the West Virginia Secretary of State, but Holt began his career in higher education. He has a PhD in physics from NYU and he served as director of the Princeton Plasma Labs and as a faculty member at Swarthmore College before turning to politics. He’s currently running for reelection against Republican Alan Bateman and third Party candidate David J. Corsi.

During one of the most politically exciting times in America, Congressman Holt found time for an interview with the VOICE. He shared his views on education, science, and politics. The following interview excerpts provide a glimpse into his views on the issues of most concern to students today.

VOICE: What advice do you have for students today?

HOLT: There is no shortcut for time on task. If you’re actually going to learn subject matter you will have to spend time studying it. One of the problems in schools these days is that there are too many distractions both official and unofficial from time on task in the subjects the students are supposed to learn.

VOICE: What are your thoughts on the state of science in America?

HOLT: Americans traditionally…have had a scientific way of thinking. It really is something that has helped the United States of America a lot. It goes back to our Constitution and the people who founded the country. They gave America this scientific way of looking at things…that we’ve lost in recent years.

VOICE: Will this cause America to fall behind globally?

HOLT: Yeah, our growth and productivity, our record of innovation are already slowing down. We are still a pretty prosperous country and we are still doing good things economically, until recently, and still innovating but that’s slipping.

VOICE: What message do you want to pass onto students about politics?

HOLT: The principle one is that politics matters. It affects not just whether they are going to get Pell grants and what kind of interest they are going to have on their student loans…whether they will be living in a country at war, whether they’ll have an economy that has productivity, growth, so that there will be job opportunities. It really matters.

VOICE: What are your thoughts on the 2008 Presidential election?

HOLT: This is the most interesting year politically I’ve ever seen in a lot of respects…  [One] thing that is real interesting about this year’s campaign is the…spontaneous part of it…the non-standard, non-establishment vote. He’s [Obama] going to win not because of the regular Democratic Party. He’s going to win because of all of these other people previously disenfranchised, disenchanted, dis-encouraged voters…as somebody who is interested in the civic and political participation of Americans I’d say that’s great…all these people who had previously written off politics and state affairs…they’re getting engaged. That’s great.

VOICE: With so many people of all ages disillusioned with American politics, the question on everyone’s mind is: can politics actually deliver hope?

HOLT: It can never deliver perfect solutions but our political system is the best that has ever been devised for balancing competing interests. And when you balance competing interests, there is compromise.

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