Barack Obama, Andover’s Man

The youth vote is energized – and with good reason. Barack Obama should be the next president of the United States. In a time when anti-intellectualism is in vogue and ‘elitism’ is vilified, Obama’s education and eloquence are refreshing and vital qualities in a presidential candidate. It will take intelligence and good judgment to restore both America’s economy and our standing worldwide. Our collective opinion is also informed by our attitudes toward issues such as the war in Iraq, the environment, education, health care, civil liberties and others. But there is something else at work as well. We are a group of largely like-minded seventeen and eighteen-year-olds, at a liberal school in the northeast United States, witnessing – and some voting for the first time in – a historic election on a grand scale. For many, this event is like nothing we have experienced in our lifetimes. The energy, concern and urgency students feel – the ardor of our convictions and our arguments – has swept over the campus. For whatever reason, Barack Obama has inspired us. It helps that he is the youngest candidate in our living memory. We’re logging on, signing up, emailing, texting, campaigning, calling congressmen and staying tuned. We are invigorated. What with YouTube immortalizing clips of Katie Couric’s mind-boggling Sarah Palin interview, Matt Drudge splaying conservative conspiracy theories across our computer screens, blogs like Real Clear Politics and the Huffington Post changing the methods of journalism and newspapers putting their up-to-minute coverage at our virtual fingertips, we also have no excuse not to be informed – and, for the most part, we are. Obama has substance as well as flash. It’s said the election during which someone comes of age shapes his or her perceptions of politics for years to come. We are a group of idealists and cynics. There are those among us who claim that our votes make no difference or that it is better to abstain entirely (writing in Hillary, Hussein, what have you) rather than participate in such a corrupt and wretched process. But on the whole, we are hopeful. We are young. We are students, and, as much as we like to claim otherwise, we are still making up our minds about the world. We are a generation that has come of age in post-9/11 times, to be sure, but we grew up without images of the two towers in our textbooks. On the whole, we are optimistic about America and its future. After all, we are part of it, for better or for worse. And so is Barack Obama, if we had our say.