MTV reality stars bring Rock the Vote to UNCP
By Abbigail Overfelt
Assistant Web Editor
Education, healthcare, the draft, immigration and the death penalty were top issues for MTV’s “Real World” stars Sirus and Brooke, who visited UNCP for Rock the Vote 2007 on Nov. 2.
According to Sirus, one of the main problems with education is that there are either not enough teachers or that they simply pass students along.
Sirus also considers America a “dumb” country, due to the education system.
“Other countries go to two years of high school, and that’s equivalent to two years of our college,” he said.
“A lot of the education system is based off of property taxes,” Sirius said. “If you have nicer homes, you have nicer schools and nicer teachers. Some people aren’t dealt the same cards.”
For Brooke, healthcare was something she never had to worry about until she turned 25 and was dropped from her parent’s health insurance.
Since she didn’t work for a company that offered group health insurance, she had to file for it individually.
The insurance company denied her because she had a “pre-existing condition,” defined by any medical diagnosis that requires more than one prescription.
According to Brooke, the solution to this would be to have universal healthcare, where everyone would be covered and prices would be fair.
“If education is a right, why can’t healthcare be a right?” she asked.
“A lot of other countries, who are not powerful as our country is supposed to be, have universal healthcare, and their things are taken care of,” said Sirus.
“If I was in college right now, my main concern would be the economy. Who ... is going to make our economy better? Who is going to bring the dollar up? The only reason why you are in school now is to make more money…if there are no jobs when you are done, why ... are you here?” Sirus continued.
Sirus went on say that the economy should definitely be a priority in the election.
Brooke also made a point about finding unbiased sources when looking for campaign information.
“You want to make sure that they are credible, and that they don’t have any kind of agenda associated with them,” she said.
To Brooke, however, “the war is the number one important topic.”
She called reinstating the draft a “very big possibility.”
“We are sending over the National Guard. These people did not sign up to go to war. They signed up to protect our borders at home…the draft is real, and I would make sure I knew where the candidates stood as far as the draft went,” Sirus said.
Sirus and Brooke agreed on the topic of immigration.
Sirus said that he doesn’t have a problem with immigration, especially considering what some people go through to cross our borders.
“If your country is so bad that you are willing to risk your life and float over here on a raft then ... let the man in,” Sirus said.
The most controversial topic was the death penalty, over which the two stars argued heatedly.
Brooke feels as though the death penalty is “completely barbaric.”
“Why kill people to show that killing is wrong? That’s hypocritical,” Brooke said.
“I do not believe in killing people in any circumstance,” she continued.
“You punch me I’m going to punch you,” Sirus said.
“Stab me I’m going to stab you, kill one of my family members and you better hope I’m not there,” he added.
“Death is never a beautiful thing, but I think if you kill someone you should be made to go through the same thing they did,” he continued.
Brooke’s defense for the death penalty included rights for the mentally ill, which she believes are another product of an inadequate healthcare system in which people don’t get the treatment they need.
“They can’t help it; they were born that way,” she said. “The issue is not to defend them for the horrible, horrible, crime they did, but…. to get it at the root problem, which is that they are not getting healthcare.”
Jacobs said that the death penalty can be used only when guilt is beyond doubt.
“Because our entire society has been built on huge mounds of inequality, and so people with mental illness or people of color or women naturally have a harder time in our criminal justice system, so they are naturally in the forefront of being put to death,” Jacobs said.
“I understand the argument for the death penalty for those who the evidence has shown to be guilty, but because our system is so unequal and so unjust…I think that influences a lot of rage against the death penalty,” Jacobs continued.
The discussion came to a close after other viewpoints were discussed, including Bush and the decisions he has made during his term.
Sirus said that as a country, we should be embarrassed because we have allowed him to get away with what he has.
Both stars agreed that it might be time for a woman or an African-American to step up, but that they would each need to have a strong legislative team to support them.
Sirus closed by making their purpose clear.
“We’re here to ask you guys to pay attention to whatever issues make a difference to you, and vote accordingly. Don’t vote because it’s cool. Don’t vote because its trendy. Don’t vote because we’re rocking the vote. Don’t vote because if you don’t vote, you’re going to die. Vote because you are genuinely interested in something that’s going to enhance your life, for you,” he said.