Tuesday, February 07, 2012
iReport crowns first-ever Pundit of the Week


Those in the know will always find a lively political debate brewing on iReport between our super-savvy politics junkies as they sound off on the most pressing issues of the day. With 2012 election mania in full swing, we’re kicking off a new weekly series at iReport: The Pundit of the Week.


Each week, we’ll introduce you to a member of the iReport community — liberals, conservatives, and everyone in between — who frequently engages in political debate and discussion with our community. Then, we'll do a Q&A for a look at the person behind the laptop camera.


Our first-ever Pundit of the Week is Cameron Harrelson. He hails from Baxley, Georgia, and at has been a regular iReporter since he first joined the site in 2009. At age 17, he’s also one of our youngest political commentators.



Affiliation: Conservative / Independent — "I always tell people: I'm an American first, a conservative second, and a Republican last.”


How did you get interested in politics?
"I remember watching the results of the 2004 elections and becoming instantly interested in the American political process. I recognized that my parents wanted George W. Bush to win, and were excited for that, but there was something that appealed to me beyond just that. Pretty soon after that, I decided that I wanted to get involved in politics at the local level, and eventually run for office.”


Why do you share your opinion on iReport — why should people listen to what you have to say?
“In my own way, I want to help improve the political dialogue in this country. It doesn't matter to me whether you're a Republican or Democrat, Conservative or Independent or Liberal. What matters are ideas, and how you express them. We all need to find a way to talk to each other respectfully, even if we totally disagree.


“Oftentimes, people tell me that I only have the opinions that I have because I'm copying my parents’ positions. I want everyone to know that's not the case. I do a lot of research on my own to arrive at these conclusions.”


Who’s your political hero?
“Honestly? Right now, and I know this is probably going to make a bunch of people write me off, but I have to say Sarah Palin.


“She took on some tough ethics issues while she was Governor of Alaska, she fought for her principles. And whether you love or hate her, you can’t deny that she made a huge splash when she arrived on the national scene. Sure, I do find some of her positions appealing, but the real reason she inspires me is because of her character and determination.”


What’s going to be the defining issue of the 2012 election?
“Far and away, the economy and jobs. There are other issues that are intertwined with this, like the runaway cost of healthcare, inflation, our huge debt and deficit, and wasteful spending. But when it comes to what’s going to be immediately on people’s mind, it’s definitely the economy.”


What’s something people might be surprised to know about you?
“I took maybe 2 months worth of piano lessons, and after that learned how to play music by ear. I taught myself some guitar chords by doing the same thing.”


Follow Cameron on Twitter at @Cam4573. If you’d like engage in spirited debate and throw your hat into the ring for Pundit of the Week, now’s your chance: Join in on the discussion at iReport.

February 7, 2012
Click to view omekongo's profile

Congrats for being the first! This is going to be a great segment!

February 7, 2012
Click to view JohnBoone85's profile

Sarah Pailn = political hero? And this kid's the pundit of the week? Short list, huh?

February 7, 2012
Click to view queersmurf's profile

Congratulations Cam....though, as I'm sure I have said in the past, I have to seriously question anybody who thinks of Palin as their hero because of her character which is mainly centered around making money.


It also saddens me deeply to know that some in the upcoming generation are still being taught that conservative values are something to be proud of.


If you are truly American first as you claim, then honestly I don't see how you would ever be able to say you're conservative second because to me the two are in conflict.


No disrespect intended, I just have a hard time understanding how someone your age believes that handing the country over to the greediest among us with little to no oversight, or that relegating a group of people in this country to second-class citizenship status are good things.  Yet those are so-called "conservative values".


But I also wholeheartedly believe that conservatism is a dying ideology as more people are beginning to see the truly prejudicial nature of it.  I can only hope that someone as passionate and driven as you seem to be will  eventually discover this for yourself.  :-)

February 7, 2012
Click to view iceman44's profile

Dear Queer smurf,

I am not in the wealthy class. My husband and I both work, we care for his mother as we did mine AN I CAN PROUDLY SAY I AM A CONSERVATIVE, MY DEFINITION OF A CONSERVATIVE IS SOMEONE WHO TAKES CARE OF THEMSELVES, THEIR FAMILY AND THEIR COMMUNITY WITHOUT THE HELP OF THE GOVERNMENT.(sorry for the caps, I am a poor typist). My family works a local food bank, we do food drives and help in a thrift shop and are planning an ESL class. I do not believe all liberals are the same please have the intelligence to realize you know nothing about me until we have sat down and carried on a conversation. I want everyone to have a good life so I live with less. I am a conservative and I am proud of it. Oh by the way I went to Antioch College in the 60's and I grew up.

February 7, 2012
Click to view mb2010a's profile

Aren't children supposed to be seen and not heard? That's one of the fundamental planks of the conservative platform... Sarah Palin...well, bless your heart.

February 7, 2012
Click to view mb2010a's profile

Dear Iceman44,


So I guess you'll be sending back all your mother-in-laws Social Security checks then,

since you're against it anyway and apparently you don't need it...oh, and scratch Medicare off there, too.

February 7, 2012
Click to view freeme10's profile

When I was his age, I was a conservative as well.  I believed that people were self sufficient, community minded, and generally good natured.  I then moved out of my parents house, went to college (worked to pay for it) and realized that all that I thought was true was incorrect.  People came together to form a governing body for a reason.  People are selfish.  We need government to keep protect us from our selfish ways, in all aspects of life.  It doesn't mean we are victims of the state, it means that we are products of the state (and better for it).  

February 7, 2012
Click to view katie's profile

Congratulations, Cameron! We look forward to hearing from iReporters across the political spectrum, so if any of you commenters think you have what it takes to be our featured pundit, we'd love to see it! http://ireport.cnn.com/topics/723718

February 7, 2012
Click to view Falar's profile

Like others have said, congratulations on being the first iReport pundit.


That out of the way, I seriously disagree with your opinion that any Republican candidate can defeat Barack Obama. The Republican nomination process has been a circus - I don't think anybody would deny that - and to say that the current candidates are capable of winning based on a set of values that have been repeatedly compromised is to make a fallacious argument. I'm willing to bet that however disappointed in Obama, most independents would be much more so in the Republican nominee; I'm going to be surprised if Barack doesn't win with a significant majority of both the popular and electoral vote.

February 7, 2012
Click to view cam4573's profile

Thank you iceman and thank you CNN

February 7, 2012
Click to view BJC2's profile

The fact that anyone, especially a teenage kid, would feel the need to remind their party that they should vote for someone with whom they ACTUALLY AGREE says a lot about the current directionless MESS the GOP is in. And then a few sentences later he says, 'Anyone but Obama'. This kid's not a pundit. He's a product or right-wing media brainwashing. It's sad to see it happening to the younger generation. Either come up with your own youthful and USEFUL ideas, or just turn off Fox News and go play with your friends.

February 7, 2012
Click to view grackman's profile



that's it: wow.


o.k. I lied (just like Palin, but I actually know it). There's more.


someday, if you leave your rich and spoiled life you may learn what most have to suffer with just to get what you take for granted. This is not to say that you should throw away what you have, but consider that most can't fathom your benefits granted through class.


Of course, you are young, so you have no idea of what life is about. However, I applaud you in that you actually do want to consider the things you do and the politics of this country. But please, look at things from the side of those that don't have what you take for granted. And please (PLEASE), get a functioning brain. Anyone with an IQ over 50 should know that Palin is a complete idiot who has learned how to manipulate the minds of morons. My gosh, just look at her: she leans towards the window unknowingly when the sun comes up.


...it is not a great achievement to be considered a genius among morons.


Whether you are aware of it or not, "everyone who is between the ages of 10 and 30 knows everything". So chill out, and think a bit.


good luck. I'm sure you'll be more successful (at least monetarily) than I have been. But I am content and can sleep at night not having to think if I have done something to harm anyone else.



February 7, 2012
Click to view jbdaisycnn's profile

All I see is a bad imitation of bad politicians. Your statement that Obama's policies have failed serves only to illustrate your ignorance. Claiming to know what "the American people want" is testament to your arrogance. Your rant was completely without substance and certainly not deserving of anyone’s attention for anything other than an example southern conservative child brainwashing.

February 7, 2012
Click to view cam4573's profile

Grackman- I am not rich, but I appreciate you excercising your first amendment right.

February 7, 2012
Click to view ChrisMorrow's profile

Cool! :)


February 7, 2012
Click to view bricha's profile

BJC2  Now I don't want to do the same thing you have done, but I get so annoyed when liberals make blanket statements about all coservatives getting all their information from FOX, or that we only get our ideas because of "right-wing media brainwashing".  As hard as it might be for you to handle, I can't remeber the last time I read, or listened to a FOX program, I tend to read either CNN or New York times, and yet I somehow tend to be conservative. 


In my opinion America would be such a better place if each person realized that they are responsible to provide for them selves.  Self determination and hard work can get you far.

February 7, 2012
Click to view cam4573's profile

Exactly bricha

February 7, 2012
Click to view phelonius's profile


and i get so annoyed when republicans (or so called conservatives) define themselves politically by saying that they think each person should be responsible to provide for themselves.  financial independence (something you are not able to speak to cam4573) is as much a value to liberals as conservatives.  the difference is that when life happens, liberals tend to be in favor of giving people public assistance with the hope that they will at some point stand on their own 2 feet while conservatives shout "let 'em die!" on national TV. conservative use to mean "small govt", it doesn't mean that anymore.

@cam4573 congratulations on the honor, i'm glad you have interests that lie outside video games.  you knew you were going to get flak for stating that your hero is Palin.  well here it comes.  you said she took on some difficult ethics issues, she did, because she created them.  she made a huge splash when she resigned from her public office to pursue personal gain.  i'm curious, what aspects of her character inspire you? her vindictiveness? her lack of ability to fulfill obligations? her greed for power and money? i agree that she is determined, determined to ride her comet from obscurity back to eventual insignificance.  and determined to make as much money as possible in the process.  you said "I do a lot of research on my own to arrive at these conclusions", well i'd like to see your sources.  i think it's great that you have interest in politics and i'm glad you recognize that being red,white and blue is way more important than whether you're blue or red.  however there's a lot better conservative icons to hang your hat on than Palin.  she's just one of the loudest.

February 7, 2012
Click to view MrAndre76's profile

Sarah Palin.  Really? The death-panel, and I can see Russia from my porch so I know foreign policy, Palin? Good luck with that. There are some very good, very credible conservatives, she and the flock of professed conservatives now in power are all fakes.  True conservatives do not destroy the Constitution, spend us into oblivion, take money from the middle class and give it to the rich, bring us to war for ten years on a credit card.  True conservatives like Barry Goldwater don't care what goes on in your bedroom or the rest of your house.  Get a grip kid. 

February 7, 2012
Click to view cam4573's profile

Palin is just one of many. Ronald Reagan is an inspiration to the cause as well and he passed the torch to Newt. For the record, I am not rich. In fact, I work a job and taxes come out of my paycheck every week. I also work to pay my for my own gas and payments on my truck. So contrary to many comments above, I do not get things handed to me. I work for what I have. Some will say that is not a lot compared to house bills and medical bills and such.... Remember, I am 17. My family instilled in me the right to work hard and earn what I have..not to expect a free handout.

February 8, 2012
Click to view dpkronmiller's profile

Congrats Cameron!


February 8, 2012
Click to view nl20051405's profile

Cameron, what an inspiring new start!

February 8, 2012
Click to view melburney's profile

Congratulations Cameron!!!! Way to go! For all the negative people out there and for all the just down right rude..... I think that it speaks volumes about someone his age with so much political knowledge. Does he care, obviously, most teenagers have no care what is going on with the government and this teenager knows more than most and actually cares.

GRACMAN...... FOr your information, Cameron is not rich and is far from spoiled, he hasn't had the easiest life and he has worked hard for EVERYTHING he has and before you start judging people you better take a good hard look at yourself because I can tell you he is nothing like you think he is. Does he have the respect of his fellow classmates, yes, more than you can imagine, is he smart, yes smarter than you will ever be and does he care about the USA.... you better believe it.... don't go ranting about something you know nothing about!

Sorry Cameron but people like that just get on my nerves, I am very proud of you as are so many people from your small hometown, you are a inspiration to many and I wish you the very best! Once again, congratulations!!!!

February 9, 2012
Click to view larrybanal's profile

melburney...do you really not understand you are ranting yourself and you know nothing of grackman.  having the respect of classmates when almost all think exactly like you is really no big deal.   after cameron has had an opportunity to go into the world and actually experience something...then maybe he will have an opinion worth hearing...but thinking of palin as a hero is NOT smart and reagan had dementia before you were born

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