Posted by Jack
In his 2008 election, President Obama was able to harness and energize America’s youth, making them integral players in his campaign for the presidency. Then more than ever students volunteered, took time off from other activities, involved their friends, and committed their time to a political movement. Not only was this participation by America’s youth important in the short run for President Obama’s success, but it was inspiring to see such a strong movement driven by young Americans.
To this day, President Obama remembers the importance of America’s youth and continues to keep them involved. A recent Washington Post Article explores many of the methods the Obama Administration is employing to reinvigorate the youth energy lost in the 2010 midterm elections. Recently after speeches on large college campuses, President Obama made personal appearances in small conferences of students meeting with White House staff. He took time to interact with each individual, showing a strong commitment to youth voters.
The speeches and conferences are part of a new, larger initiative to engage young Americans. The White House announced tht they will host at least 100 roundtables with young voters and White House staff to explore important issues and questions of concern. In addition, the Obama Administration will employ a method they mastered during the 2008 campaign: social media. They plan to use national web and conference calls, online forums, and web chats to further reach out to America’s youth. Even more, the administration assigned Kal Penn, a visible and well-known personality among young Americans, to lead the campaign.
The connection of young Americans to the political process is of utmost importance, and the Obama Administration understands this. Even more, he understands how to connect with America’s youth in indirect ways. According to a post on CNN’s Political Ticker, Republican Committee Chair Reince Priebus criticized President Obama for taking time out of his day to go on ESPN and present his bracket for the NCAA tournament. Priebus wanted to know how President Obama could lead by putting the NCAA tournament ahead of the budget and “other pressing issues.” First of all, I don’t see Republicans making much headway on the budget or jobs in the first place, focusing on efforts to repeal a bill that brought needed health care to millions of Americans. Second, the appearance on ESPN, something the President has done in the past and probably took a mere minutes to film, will surely go a long way in connecting to America’s youth. The NCAA basketball tournament grabs the attention of Americans and college students across the country for two weeks in March. By putting his name and face with the tournament, and showing he is watching and aware, as well, President Obama connected with an often disconnected constituency.
Young Americans are often overlooked in the political process. They have a voice that often falls on deaf ears, and a large portion of the young population cannot even voice their concerns at the polling place. It is refreshing to see a President who understands the importance and power of young Americans and the influence a committed group of them can have. The efforts by the Obama Administration, both formal and informal, will go a long way to mobilizing young voters in the 2012 election and has participating citizens in years to come.