Tom Foreman | BIO
Reporter's Note: President Obama held a conference call with student journalists and talked to them about the upcoming vote in November; and that’s the subject of my daily letter to the White House; after all, I was once a student journalist too!
Dear Mr. President,
I read about your appeal to college age voters, asking them to get involved in the midterm elections, and that seems like a good idea. Of course, a lot of calls to the college crowd seem like a good idea at the time. “Hey Bob, Chuck, Davey, we found a hornets’ nest behind the frat house. Want to come help drive them off with a leaf blower?”
Still, if it had not been for the youth vote, you would not be president right now. No way. And I suspect they may offer one of the best (and maybe last) defenses your party has against a thumping in November.
But, in all candor, I wouldn’t push a lot of chips into this pot. Young voters are traditionally a hard bunch to get to the polls. They have other things to do, like studying, Facebooking, beer pong, and over-extending credit cards. You can hardly expect them to set all that aside to trek to some dismal neighborhood polling place, stand in line, and flip a few levers, or punch chads, or whatever. Kidding aside, I’m not being disparaging. They are genuinely busy preparing for what, at the moment, looks like a tough entry into the job market in the not distant future.
Now, I’ll grant that you proved that they can be lured into playing along during your presidential campaign. But when you ran, you were asking them to believe in you. Not the rest of Democrats. Not the two-party system. Not Washington overall. You. You held up the promise of new ideas, change, and openness to their way of thinking.
Getting them involved now is a harder trick, because you are asking for what I call a “one-off.” You are saying, in effect, “Get out and vote for Democrats, because I am a Democrat, and unless you do, my presidency is in trouble. Or ‘more’ trouble, depending on how you look at it.” See? The connection between their vote and the result is less distinct, and less certain. Heck, they voted for you directly and it has not turned out as many of them expected, so you have to ask yourself, why would they have faith in this billiard-ball combination shot?
So I think you’ll have to lay out explicitly what you plan to do, and how you will make your fellow Dems fall in line. If you do that, perhaps enough of the college kids can be reinvigorated to your cause. But without such a maneuver, I suspect Election Day will be just another busy day on campus, with nary a thought for the consequences in DC.
So my Saints fell over the weekend. And to the Falcons! Oh well. As I write this, your Bears are meeting up with the Packers, so good luck. Call if you can. I’m around this week.
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