Where Obama Went Wrong With The New Generation

September 18, 2009

It’s been a while since I’ve sent waves through this area of the new world. To sum up the reasons why: facebook, iPhone, lack of at home based high-speed internet connection, becoming a member of the new freelance (aka “gig-based”) economy. Checking in became difficult, but don’t get me wrong – I have not checked out. In the modern day, it’s awfully hard to check out.

I have kept up with affairs. I’ve watched the debates, heard the arguments, seen the tin-foil hats (hell, in past days I even wore a tin-foil hat and mask through WalMart at 2 am one night with friends because we were bored). At this point, I know little more than I did before. I know we are embroiled in an argument over the reform of the “Health Care System”. I also know I have a distinct problem with this statement. That problem is that it implies we have a system for health care. I don’t know what the encounters of others have been with this “system”, but I’ve never found the “system” that organized beyond the corporate structure of individual companies. Keep in mind, the definition of “system” is: “a group of independent but interrelated elements comprising a unified whole”. Try and get your insurance company to work with a specialist who is the best in the area, but not a member of their network. You will find out very quickly how much of a “unified whole” we have in this country.

If it has not become blatantly obvious at this point, I agree that this country needs some serious reform (or, as I opine, creation) of a health care system. President Obama seems to believe the same. Most of Congress thinks the same as well. No one can agree on how to do it, but everyone agrees it has to be done. So…where did it all go wrong?

It has been suggested to me that the lack of interest from the youth vote that helped to elect Obama is a part of what has allowed the debate to again become so polarized. To this, I must say – I agree. Momentum generated supporting Obama during the election has begun to wear down. College students don’t give as much energy to the campaign goals as they did to the campaign itself. Accepting this, the question is: why?

There are many reasons why the youth movement is no longer as active in Obama’s goals as they were in his campaign. The first, and possibly the most obvious yet easily overlooked, is that it is just that time of year. The election and campaigns are held at a time when students are: in school; involved in the world; being educated; surrounded by piers and intellectuals; involved in clubs that enable social action; on campus where they can set up booths and use bullhorns. On the flip side, the health care debate has been during a time when students are: on spring break; studying for finals; taking finals; preparing to leave to for summer; at home for the summer trying to make money to cover student loan costs and give their parents a break. Is it really a shock to find that the college vote that helped elect Obama is far less active during the next 6 months?

The first reason being established, the second reason should be more complex. Being the bearer of bad news, I have to say…it’s just as simple. Obama’s camp has become the spam capitol of the e-world. In doing so, he has destroyed a lot of credibility with the new digital age that helped elect him.

Please, re-read the statement above. I mean it. It has gone too far. Every day it’s a new e-mail from the Obama camp. We need your help with this. We need your help with that. What it should read is “we don’t remember that you’ve just gone through civics class, and you think that you should really only have to stand up to protest the US Government at times when it is absolutely necessary”. Unfortunately, right now doesn’t feel absolutely necessary. “Why?”, once again becomes the question. The answer, once again, may be simpler than you think.

We, as the new generation, live in a world that is inundated by Facebook, Twitter, and MySpace updates. The whole world, in effect, has become spam. Everything comes to us, at our whim. There is no longer a question of “who was that actor in…?”, because one of us will hit up IMDB on our phone and answer the question. Information is readily available, whether truthful or otherwise.

It then gets categorized by importance. Importance is defined by popularity. And quite frankly, daily updates from the Obama camp asking us to write our congressman in support of issue X do nothing to bring us in. We need Obama. We don’t respond to an e-mail from Lindsay Lohan’s assistant telling us she’s drunk at club XXY. But the drunk twitter from Lindsay herself will get hits all night. Don’t take me wrong – I don’t think anyone in Lindsay’s state of power sends their own Tweets. Lindsay’s publicist, however, is smart enough to not let us in on the secret. It is in this impersonal/personal duality that Barack has lost the new generation that he rallied during the election.

In the time of the election, the choices were obvious. Change was promised from a youthful leader who understood how to rally the new generation and use the new medium of technology to bring about a personal connection with government that had never been seen before. Those who supported the president knew, via a new medium, his plans at the same time the news agencies found out. We were in direct contact with those who could be in power. It felt great. It was empowering. We felt as though we could change the world, and continue to have an impact. We elected our leader. You may now reach him by going to http://www.whitehouse.gov/CONTACT/. Ask for the change we believed in – the kind where politics becomes personal, and our voices don’t simply echo through the noise chamber.


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