It’s good to be an 18-to 24-year-old in America. Advertising agencies have to work especially hard to sell us things. Civic leaders point to us as “the future.” And prior to this fall, companies wanted to hire us.
We’re notoriously well-read, ambitious and most importantly, skeptical of the world around us. I suppose that’s why I’m so surprised that 18-to 24-year-olds are generally obsessed with Barack Obama.
I expect my age group to favor left-leaning politics, but the support I’ve witnessed during the 2008 presidential campaign is as troubling as it is promising. No, I’m not another heartless conservative, bitter that my peers support the Democratic candidate. I’m also not trying to scare anyone into changing their vote. Rather, I’m asking why so many 18-to 24-year-olds have forgone the famous skepticism that distinguishes us from other voters, to blindly support Barack Obama.
To be fair, I understand a lot of the appeal. Sen. Obama is a young, fresh-faced, verbally gifted, well-educated minority Democrat. And perhaps most importantly, he’s not George W. Bush. For my age group, he sounds like the perfect mold for a presidential candidate. But his identity shouldn’t suffice.
Don’t get me wrong, I applaud the millions of 18 to 24-year-olds who have examined the issues and know why they’re supporting Obama. But there are also millions who favor Obama and cannot really explain why. Obama brings promise to a lot of Americans, but he also brings a lot of questions – questions I fear many of my peers refuse to ask or hear the answers to.
Does my age group care that Obama voted with his party 97 percent of the time in the Senate and that his party will have overwhelming control over two branches of our government if he is elected? Does it matter that Obama has referenced wealth-distribution policy ideas that are borderline socialist several times in the past month and has stated that Americans “still suffer” from the Supreme Court’s reluctance to bring about “redistributive change?”
If you think that Obama’s rock-star status is a right-wing fabrication, look no further than YouTube which features several of his rallies.
Take an example from a Pennsylvania event, during which, in a rambling anecdote, the Senator managed to say the word “pie” 15 times in 90 seconds to mindless cheers from supporters.
If we applaud pie, will we approve of anything Obama says? If he is elected, will my age group bother to hold him to a higher standard?
In the United States, you’re allowed to vote for a candidate for whatever reason you choose. But young voters aren’t supposed to be the ones supporting a candidate merely because it’s popular. 2008 may be the year where 18-to 24-year-olds will finally “Rock the Vote” as we have promised to do for decades. I just hope it’s not at the expense of the inquisitive cynicism that makes us such a dynamic, intense and passionate group of Americans.