After watching President Obama’s appearance on Jimmy Fallon the other night, I have decided that the president is too cool. And judging from the response I’ve seen across the Twitterverse and Facebook, so have many naïve and poorly informed members of my generation.
Obama’s appearance, like everything else he does on a daily basis, was a calculating campaign move targeting a specific demographic. His opposition to the rising interest rates on student loans is a show intended to shore up his support among college students and recent college graduates. It will last only as long as it takes for him to win the election. Never mind the fact that keeping the interest rates artificially low will only accelerate the looming debt crisis as a result of student loan defaults.
There is no question that Obama’s campaign team understands the importance of the “Millennial” generation in the coming election. Hence Obama’s campaign manager Jim Messina in February urging the Millennials to take to Twitter and Facebook to show their support of the president, and effectively declaring the start of an internet “war” against Republicans.
The far-Left website MoveOn.org is more than happy to answer that call to war. That organization announced recently (to the surprise of absolutely no one) that it will be engaging in a campaign to place an ad on the Facebook page of every college student in the United States in an all-out effort to win in November.
Republicans would be foolish to twice underestimate the power of mediums such as these. The internet is, without question, the most powerful tool for reaching voters of the younger generations. The Obama campaign machine employed this tool masterfully during the 2008 campaign, and it translated into the largest margin of victory for a specific age group in history (Obama received the support of sixty-six percent of voters age 18-29 to McCain’s thirty-two).
For the most part, the Republican Party sat back and looked on helplessly in 2008 as the Obama “Hope n’ Change” machine rolled along, picking up the support of young people left and right. Having been saddled with an old, uninspiring candidate, there was little the party could do to reverse this trend (and, though a valiant effort, Sarah Palin’s appearances on SNL did absolutely nothing to help the cause).
The Obama campaign has wasted no time in establishing official campaign elements which target the young voter demographic. The campaign already has “Gen44” (short for Generation 44, the 44 being for the president’s number in history) which will be “engaging new supporters and building events for the campaign. Rather than being driven by dollar amounts, Gen44 focuses on involving as many young people as possible.”
Clearly, Republicans have an uphill battle in front of them for the votes of the younger voters of America. While Obama may now be a known commodity instead of the transcendental, messianic figure of four years ago, that does not mean he is any less of a rock star in the minds of our generation. The fact that Obama smoked weed in college gives him a sort of “street cred.” Appearances on late night shows like Jimmy Fallon’s? Cool.
Sadly, mine is a generation that has trouble seeing beyond pop culture and all other things superficial, particularly when it comes to politics. Obama was popular among Millennials in 2008 not because of his platform (not that he really had a discernible one, other than not being George Bush), but because he was young and hip. He went on all of the late night shows and comedy sketch shows. He inspired hip-hop artists to give him shout-outs in their music (Young Jeezy’s hit “My President Is Black” was released in September—two months before Obama was even elected).
To his credit, the president has done a very good job maintaining that image. The fact that the president takes time to fill out an NCAA Basketball Tournament bracket and discuss his picks on TV? Awesome. Frankly, I’m just waiting for Shop Boyz to put out a remix of their 2007 hit “Party Like a Rockstar” (“Party like Barack, party like Barack y’all…” It flows). Heck, Obama is even slumming it in college dive bars now. Forgive me, but I could have sworn that the job of the president was to be the Commander-in-Chief, not Bro-in-Chief.
Fortunately, some on the Right have begun to chip away at Obama’s “coolness.” American Crossroads recently put out a brilliant video questioning whether the fact that Obama is cool has made any young Americans’ lives better.
Hopefully these facts will resonate with the younger voters in my generation. The Romney camp seems confident they will. I remain thoroughly pessimistic.
I was riding in the car with an Australian university student the other day and somehow the president came up. Amazingly, the conversation progressed precisely as though she were an American student:
“I’ve always felt particularly close to Obama.”
“Why is that? Do you identify with him for any particular reason?”
“No…I’ve just always felt like I should.”
Another typical conversation I’ve heard more times than I can count (with different students):
“What do you like about Obama?”
“Oh, I don’t know… he’s just so…HOT.”
To the Romney camp: Start looking to book late night shows. Put him on a celebrity workout plan and get him shirtless on the cover of Men’s Health or an interview in Playboy. I at least want my “Preezy of the United Steezy” to be somewhat conservative.