During the 2008 election, I had three “Hope and Change” bumper stickers on my wall and my friends and I unanimously agreed that Barack Obama and JFK tied for cutest president.
However, sitting in the student lounge and discussing the election now, the atmosphere is different. Many of my friends are split, unsure of how much faith they can have in President Obama, others remaining loyal, defending him until we have to break for class. Some are saying that Obama is struggling to keep the “cool factor” in this election. I agree that he won’t be able to maintain his ’08 momentum, but I don’t believe it will be his downfall. Obama may not be able to keep up his cool factor in 2012, but if he stays focused on issues important to young people he can keep the youth vote.
In 2008, Obama was fresh and relatable, catapulting to celebrity status; he became the face of my generation with a message of hope and change. Now that he’s been in office, the enthusiasm has deflated a bit. No, Obama hasn’t quite lived up to expectations, but it was unrealistic to think that he could keep all of his campaign promises or that he could be everything we had built him up to be in 2008.
With young voters getting ready to help pick a candidate again, the focus is not on keeping up Obama’s coolness, but electing the best person to represent their interests. This election is less about being cool and more about decreasing youth unemployment rates or getting control of student loans — as it should be.
Elections are not a time to elect the cutest candidate who tweets the most, but rather about electing someone you think is most fit to run the country. Obama can see that, and in addition to trying to maintain his cool factor, he’s focusing on issues important to young people. Recently, he began reaching out to students, especially those who weren’t old enough to vote in the last election, and tackled issues young people wanted to talk about.
Presidents are people, not fads, and as far as I can tell, 18-29 year olds are starting to realize that. The youth vote for Obama may not be as significant as it was in ’08, but many still agree with him on social issues and have a hard time relating to any of Republican candidates on anything but the economy.
The bottom line is that approval ratings drop, presidents don’t keep their promises, and yes, it’s disappointing, but in the end young people will always vote for those they deem most capable of fixing the problems most relevant to them. As far as I can tell, Republicans may receive some of the youth vote, but overall they just aren’t what we’re looking for. Barack Obama remains the favorite, even if he’s not quite the bee’s knees anymore.
Photo Credit: Icrontic.com