Still For Obama, But Disenchanted

For the Obama campaign, the college campus poses a whole different challenge in 2012 than it did in 2008. Earlier, the campus was one of the most solid and energized pro-Obama zones in the country. The group Students4Obama, which operated on more than 700 campuses, was just one program in the conversion of the campaign into a youth-oriented, cool-emanating social movement among the students. Among young voters in general, 18-29-year-olds, the preference for Obama over McCain ended up reaching an unprecedented 27 points.

Today, no “hope and change” message is possible, no glorification of
Obama as savior after eight years of Republican rule. That’s the theme
of stories about the college campus and the upcoming election. Four
years of disappointment have followed the fervor of ’08 (what else could
have happened?), and so the question isn’t about the politics of the
students. It’s about their energy, their enthusiasm. The Chronicle of
Higher Education
had a story recently with the headline “Obama Campaign Looks to Re-Energize Disenchanted Young Voters.”
It notes that students still favor Obama by big numbers, 63 percent
according to Pew Research, but in the same poll only 49 percent of them
approve Obama’s job performance, a drop of 24 points since Feb 2009.

This opens a different question–not whom students will vote for, but whether they will vote at all. Their “disenchantment” has become an issue, and the Obama campaign needs to overcome it. Hence, the story continues, Obama complained about “skyrocketing tuition rates” in his State of the Union Address, and he threatened pulling federal money from egregious schools. Since then, Obama “has gone on the stump at community colleges and public universities, making it a point to underscore the importance of college access and affordability.” Noting that in Virginia, North Carolina, and Colorado young voters may have been a swing vote in 2008, the story observes that “the Obama campaign has held a summit on a campus in each of those states in the past two months.”

Expect more of them in the coming months, along with talk about the disenchanted youth. What we probably won’t hear is that disenchantment was written into young Obama supporters way back in 2008 when excitement ran high. During those months, Obama himself was turned into such a celebrity, such a glamour figure, such an enchanting change-agent, that the contrary was bound to happen once the nuts and bolts of leadership began. Campaigning may encourage idol-building, but governance does not. If Obama appears a disappointed image today among the undergraduates, the Obama image-builders of yesterday have only themselves to blame.

The disenchantment is also an opening for Republicans. When the Democrats proceed with the same rhetoric of Obama as the young’s best hope for the future, Republicans should counter with a simple figure, the rising debt from 2009 to 2012, and declare: “This isn’t OUR debt–it’s YOURS! Do you want it to get worse?”


  • Mark Bauerlein

    Mark Bauerlein is a professor emeritus of English at Emory University and an editor at First Things, where he hosts a podcast twice a week. He is the author of five books, including The Dumbest Generation Grows Up: From Stupefied Youth to Dangerous Adults.

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One thought on “Still For Obama, But Disenchanted”

  1. “Why the security is tight on Muslim names in USA”It is not a question of famous Indian Icon being screened at the airport. Things as they are of the terror world belong predominantly to the Muslim world.Prior to terrorism making its step into life, Muslim religion on the whole was perceived to be seen of its inherent religious loyalty of oneness. Now, (religious loyalty is different from secular loyalty in the sense that religious loyalty stays imprisoned as passion of a religion whereas Secular truly speaking accepts the oneness of all religions; rather is supposed to accept as such but in today’s world cannot be seen as such wholly because of the religious dividing lines alive with individual basic loyalties and amongst those, Muslim is one religion that inherently remains aligned within the self from within of its separate class from others and therefore security norms have even come to apply on the secular category of Muslims overpowering the secular sense they come to project as moderators)? The reason for that obviously is the age old sense of Muslim brotherhood belonging to the cult of privacy or the personal law of religion whereas other religions by and large are guided by norms and not laws that makes them subtle to the core in oneness? This question mark should ring all the wise and others because that is the thin line dividing laws and norms.Therefore, where Americans predominately look at “from their security angle”, they inherently go through the channel of Muslim personal law of oneness not of its moderation but of subtlety that they think has brought terrorism of a blind nature into life. In other words, for the security persons on the job they just go by the security norms meant for such a probe to search that element in a Muslim that is of basic loyalty only meant for Muslims and that is where their routine starts of the nature independent even on the name of a famous celebrity to protect their rule of basic security law. At this stage American government has not relaxed such a law with exceptions and that is a thing pertaining to the house of their independent psyche on it remaining reactionary of reactions by others for whom that appears like a dilemma out of the blues – why not because security perceptions of different countries have their own models in play and those cannot be equated under a universal sense because each country’s horizon for it remains in a blank filled with feeds for their employment either with absolute strictness or with some moderation at times depending upon the angles of security where even zero plus security angle comes into the picture to avoid security lapse of the nature that America’s 9/11 has already witnessed. I think India’s Khan with his good intelligence base has understood that and that is why he has not insisted on the word “sorry” and has accepted himself in routine without any kind of ill feeling on it. However, a point of reference in this context that can be made is “while it is true that total security clearance cannot be given at the level of the grant of visa because departure and landing of a passenger in journey or transit are not covered under the security angle of the country concerned, a via media of it can certainly be evolved to maintain the dignity and honor of the passenger as is the case in reference and also for other known dignitaries who are public figures of repute or who have been as such known where name alone should not reflect as scar on a community. I am sure American intelligence would pick up this idea at a human level without even involving Ministerial views at the diplomatic level of the countries. “A good taste is always better than what leaves behind quiet bitterness”. Amitab Bachan, I am sure would appreciate the last line to speak his own volume as the social reformer for his good friend Khan who already seems hurt with a void that was beyond his ethical imagination just because Khan’s heart speaks and flows for others with all the love he gives and also expects the invisibility of love of others keep filling into him. That is the personality of a smiling sha-rukh Khan meaning “rukh” (ways or directions) for all in the class of celebrities and for the masses that he carries for himself.

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