You Hired Barack Obama; Now It’s Time to Manage Him

Addendum! One final entry for the Youth Media Blog-a-Thon on “regime change.

PrimaryHCLogo_web.jpgIf there was any question about young people’s power to change the world, the 2008 presidential election answered it. Beyond the fact that 66% of young voters (18-29) voted for Obama, the real impact was on the primaries. Obama consistently outpaced Hillary Clinton among the younger age groups. When you consider the razor-thin margin by which he won, you can state with certainty that if it wasn’t for young voters, there would have been a Clinton vs. McCain general election. “Yes We Can” is only true because so many young voters can say “Yes We Did.”

For a nonpartisan organization like HeadCount (, the actual outcome of the election is not our concern. But the facts are the facts, and it can’t be ignored that the very demographic we targeted for voter registration are the ones who skewed strongest toward the candidate who won. It means our work really does have political impact, and that young people really have become a key voting bloc.

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Confessions of a Would-be Activist: A Story of Personal Regime Change

This post is part of a series for the Youth Media Blog-a-Thon on the topic of “regime change.”


I’ll admit it, though it seems almost blasphemous now: I was not an early supporter of Barack Obama.

Call me a Washington insider bent on maintaining the status quo (perhaps my brief residence in the District has infected me with the noxious virus), but Hillary was my girl in the primaries. I trusted her experience in the White House and Senate, valued her track record of working across party lines to get things done, and respected her tenacity. And perhaps an iota of my inner-feminist self felt warm and fuzzy over the prospect of a woman cracking the whip as Commander-in-Chief.

I, like some others, initially underestimated the titanic power of Obama’s message of change in steering the course of the 2008 election. Americans had more than enough of “the failed policies of George Bush,” and Obama’s team artfully crafted his campaign to reveal a picture of a man diametrically opposed to his predecessor. Mr. Obama won over the hearts and minds of Americans from all walks of life, evincing a remarkable ability to transcend traditional boundaries of age, race, income, and geography.

Following Hillary’s defeat in the primaries, I quickly found myself doing a 180 and drinking the Obama Kool-Aid–along with a lot of other young people across the nation. Record numbers of youth forked over hard-earned cash and peeled themselves away from Guitar Hero long enough to canvas door-to-door and scream for their new favorite rock star at political rallies. But the ever-dramatic pundits questioned: Would they turn out at the polls?

How could the political analysts be so pessimistic about the youth vote? Simple: people like me.

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