By Amanda Toth
While students are a demographic historically notorious for not participating in elections, Barack Obama has begun to change that. Obama, a frontrunner for the Democratic Party’s presidential nomination, is not only galvanizing the youth political revolution, but is encouraging it as well.
Students for Barack Obama began as a Facebook group to encourage the Illinois Senator to run for president. They started a website, studentsforbarackobama.com, which is now housed within Obama’s official website.
The Facebook group, still in existence, boasts over 16,000 members and touts itself as the “official student wing of the Obama for America campaign.” It offers ways to get involved, recent news, and how to buy Obama-related apparel.
Perhaps a reason that draws students to him is his John F. Kennedy-esque characteristics, such as his age, his youthfulness, and his charisma. Even a former Kennedy aide has openly compared the two. In an interview with Great Britain’s Telegraph, Ted Sorensen described the two as having the same smiles, confidence in front of microphones, and values. Both tried to become the first of something during the campaign—Kennedy the first Catholic president, and Obama the first African American.
Sorensen goes on to compare both candidates’ good looks and their appeal to women as well as their desires to change Washington. “There’s a sense in this country that Washington badly needs to be changed” he said. “The election of Obama will not only change the players in Washington, it’ll change the game itself.”
Another eerie similarity? The United States has not seen this level of student activism since Vietnam protesters in the 1960s—the Kennedy era.
Kennedy was one of the most popular presidents in U.S. history. Sorensen is not the only friend of Kennedy to believe that Obama has this potential. Kennedy’s daughter, Caroline, as well as his brother, Ted, and nephew, Patrick, have all publicly endorsed Obama and may campaign for him.
One of my biggest pet peeves is, and has been for a while, that many people my age don’t care about politics, or don’t do anything to express their opinions. I’ve always felt that if you’re not voting, you have no right to complain about what is or is not being done in Washington—you had a chance to express your displeasure by voting. Your vote is your voice.
I personally have recently noticed the trend of students becoming more politically aware. Four years ago, I found my lunch table being deeply divided in political debate, with half of its occupants at one end of the political spectrum and the rest at the other end. Election Day itself was a verbal bloodbath.
Will Generation Facebook help push Obama to the presidency? We could only be so lucky.