You probably saw, or at least heard about, President Barack Obama’s speech last week. You know, the one about the rising interest rates on student loans. You didn’t? Are you sure? It was the one where Jimmy Fallon chimed in every few sentences.
In case you did miss it, the president stopped by “Late Night” to “slow jam the news” with Fallon at the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill. The president tried to tap into a dwindling aura of “cool” to appeal to college kids on the first of his three campaign stops. Never mind — it wasn’t part of his campaign but instead a supposed policy trip to large schools that just so happen to be battleground states. He was only coincidentally addressing a voting bloc he’s relying heavily on. Rest assured, the taxpayers’ money was properly being used.
With the 2012 presidential election six months away, our age group will once again be expected to play the same role it did in 2008: idealistic targets that can be duped into voting for Obama through superficial gimmicks and empty promises. We were sold on “hope” yet our prospects are more dismal than before; we were guaranteed “change” and he’s repeatedly doubled down on failed policies. As long as the substance of what is said can be outshone with glitz and glam (“Remember when Josh Harnett was here?!”), then wide-eyed youths will hopefully vote his way; if that doesn’t work, then guilt or deride them until they fall in line. The only thing sadder than the banal humor on Fallon, though, is that this very same demographic is the one he’s hurt and ignored the most during his time in office.
Take a recent story from the Associated Press reporting that more than half of degree-holders under 25 are currently either jobless or underemployed. Considering that most in this group supported Obama in 2008 — he received an overwhelming 68 percent of the youth vote — this can’t be the bright future they were hoping for. Nevertheless, Obama assures his unquestioning fanbase that if he could enact his policies, then we’d get there, if Republicans in Congress would get out of the way. But, when he did get a chance to do as he pleased, everything he pushed through in his first two boundless years when Democrats held both the House and the Senate has been a letdown. From Cash for Clunkers to the stimulus package to ObamaCare, they’ve not only proven to be unpopular, but unsuccessful; just look at the 2010 midterm elections as a direct reflection of dissatisfaction.
With American families cutting back on expenses and tightly managing their finances, they look to our First Family to lead by example. But as most of us pinch our pennies, Barack and Michelle luxuriously live off the taxpayers’ dime. For example, reports show that a summer jaunt to Spain by Michelle and about a dozen guests racked up close to $500,000, among other elaborate trips. Had Ann Romney spent a fraction of that amount of her own family’s money on a trip, she and her husband would be dutifully scrutinized; we’re conditioned to care more about what one family does with its private wealth than what another does with public funds. The media that ignores these inconsistencies is the same one that gushed over the happenstance photo-op of Michelle shopping at Target “just like us.” They loved the idea of her mingling with and venturing where common folk do. It was just so sweet and endearing to think of her shuffling through the bargain DVD bin or buying paper towel rolls in bulk, sort of like when Marie Antoinette would play pretend as a peasant farmer at the Hameau de la Reine at Versailles.
For the next half a year, the same party that brought us John Kerry and the Kennedy dynasty will try to sway us away from voting for a rich man from Massachusetts. The party that claims to be anti-war will continue to conjure up fake ones and accuse the other of waging them, like the so-called “War on Women.” For example, it’ll assert that every woman’s needs are unique but then generalize what they all want. They’ll say women are capable of doing anything, except for providing their own birth control or negotiating their own pay; during this election season, feminism will go from proclaiming “I am woman, hear me roar” to the patriarchs of society, to “I’m a woman — can I have some more?” to the bureaucrats of the state.
As if Obama hadn’t diminished enough already, like the economy, women and our future, he recently went on to belittle the intelligence of college students. According to Flesch-Kincaid tests, he spoke to crowds at the universities of North Carolina, Colorado and Iowa at a sixth-grade level. Unsurprisingly though, his strategy has never been about appealing to our highest capacities. Every time he sanctimoniously pushes for the latest handout or bailout, it’s an attempt to just satisfy an electorate on the most basic level; it’s modern-day panem et circenses. He’s not asking for your vote, he’s trying to buy it.
Yet, despite my distressed ramblings about our generation’s ability to acknowledge the realities of this presidency, Obama’s trip to UNC exemplified a winnowing faith among supporters. In 2008, he filled up a campus arena of 22,000; uncertain that he could draw the same sized crowd this time around, he spoke in a space that held just 9,000. As the actuality of the past four years increasingly sets in with students, they’re recognizing that what another four years will mean for their future, and rallying around it isn’t quite as exhilarating.
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