Posts tagged Obama
Posts tagged Obama
(CNN) — It wasn’t supposed to happen. America’s youth were supposed to be apathetic and disheartened. We weren’t supposed to be at the polls.
The word was that we had fallen out of love with President Obama, the man who inspired us four years ago. Big money would silence our voices and make our efforts inconsequential. Two-thousand-twelve would be nothing like 2008; the youth vote wouldn’t be the decisive force it was four years ago.
We saw it differently. In two consecutive elections, more than half of my generation voted: It is clear now, if it wasn’t before, that we recognize our responsibility to our country. In fact, this time we made up an even larger percentage (19%) of the electorate than we did four years ago (18%).
We still support the man who has stood up for us: Sixty percent of voters age 18-29 chose President Obama on Tuesday. I don’t think any young person was surprised, however, that older Americans had no idea what we were thinking.
My generation has been burdened by a misguided war that damaged our credibility abroad. We’ve been told the national debt is so large that we’ll never be able to pay it back.
We have experienced an economic crisis unlike any since the Great Depression. We have watched our environment head toward disaster and our government stand at an impasse. We have been told over and over that America is no longer the great country it once was.
But our participation in the election and our overwhelming support for the president are indicative of our hope for the future and our compulsion to start tackling these problems now.
We don’t support the president just because he’s “cool,” plays basketball or listens to Jay-Z. Instead, we recognize that he, too, is ready to meet these great challenges. And we want to help him build a stronger, safer, more just America.
This election also revealed that my generation has moved past many of the debates of our parents and grandparents: The youth vote was imperative to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Maine and Maryland, the rejection of constitutional discrimination in Minnesota and the election of a president who supports equal pay, reproductive rights and fair immigration reform. For us, these issues are a matter of common sense.
We may have been disenchanted with politics over the past few years, but this election proves that it’s not because we don’t care. Rather, we reject petty posturing, partisan gridlock and inaction.
Voting is great, but it’s not an accomplishment. It’s a responsibility.
We recognize that going to the polls is the easiest thing we are going to have to do. In August, I wrote that in this election, young people would display a deep commitment to our country and its ideals, and provide a preview of the America we intend to build. We accomplished the first two, and that gives me hope that we will succeed in building a future of which we can be proud.
The next time someone claims that my generation doesn’t care and won’t help, remind them that we showed up, voted for change and are ready to get to work.
Joe Kennedy III and the Neverending Kennedy Magic
CHARLOTTE, N.C. — We may never stop measuring our lives in Kennedys. The Jack guys are all gone, and the Bobby guys are fewer by the years. For better or worse, for Democrats and Republicans, they have been the dynastic metric of the second half of the 20th century and, most amazing of all, of a good chunk of the beginning of the current one. They redefined public service. They redefined political celebrity for a new media age, and they lived within that context, for good and for ill, for the unbearably tragic and, occasionally, unbearably unbearable. Theirs is a history of public service unrivaled by that of any other family save (perhaps) the Windsors, and they get formally dragooned into it from birth. Theirs is a family history of public scandal and public political murder unrivaled by that of any other family save the Borgias. The Kennedys are our sacrifices and our scapegoats, and they stubbornly insist on volunteering for both jobs generation after generation. Sooner or later, one thinks, at least one of them has to chuck it all and live as a beachcomber clipping coupons in Palm Beach.
On Tuesday night, Joseph Kennedy III, grandson of a murdered senator and grand-nephew of a murdered president, introduced a video tribute to yet another of his grand-uncles, Senator Edward Kennedy, who passed away between the last Democratic convention and this one. He is impossibly young, red-haired, and he favors his mother, Sheila Rauch, a formidable woman who, when she was divorcing his father, former Congressman Joe Kennedy, took on the Archdiocese of Boston in a noisy battle over her ex-husband’s desire to annul their marriage, sinking the first real dent into the armor of the predator-enabling, conspirator to obstruct justice, Bernard Cardinal Law. It’s a pretty safe bet that, for all the “Kennedys Don’t Cry” family lore, there is a toughness to this Kennedy that he did not get from his father’s side of the family.
He’s running for Congress now, seeking to replace the retiring Barney Frank. People who have worked with him both in the campaign, and in his day job as an assistant district attorney, talk about how humble and decent he is, the kind of guy who volunteers to take the real grunt work of a public prosecutor, weekend DUI busts and tangled cases of domestic violence. Under their breath, so as not to upset The Family, many of these people make the point that, “He’s a Rauch, He’s not a Kennedy.”
"It’s like recombinant DNA," said Congressman Ed Markey. "You’ve got both those strands twining together."
(The video was a delightful combination of elegy and attack ad. A lot of it was taken up with clips from the debate between Edward Kennedy and Willard Romney during their 1994 Senate race in which Romney came off looking very badly. In fact, I’d forgotten how much of an obviously snippy lord of the manor type he was back in his younger days. This prompted some Twittery whinging from obvious anagram Reince Priebus, as though that pipsqueak was the true custodian of Edward Kennedy’s legacy, and as though Edward Kennedy himself wouldn’t have been twice as tough in person as he was on film.)
He was a Kennedy on Tuesday night, because that was what the hall was looking for. “Make no mistake,” he said of his late grand-uncle, “he is here with us tonight. You can see it in the passion of our delegates and the character of our candidates. For my uncle Teddy, politics was all about people. he measured things by promotions won and jobs lost, new homes and broken hearts, baptisms and funerals, every precious moment in between…. It guides us in the tough campaign ahead as we fight for the middle class, an economy that’s built to last, defend a woman’s right to choose, protect our seniors’s retirement security, and ask every American to do their part to safeguard the promise of this country.” Three generations of delegates pretended to be young again.
It was quick and it was modest and it was over very quickly. “It’s still magic,” said Congressman Jim McGovern, who has been campaigning with Kennedy because some of McGovern’s old congressional district now belongs to the district Kennedy wants to represent. “He’s got the ideals of his great-uncle and his grandfather, but he’s also very thoughtful and level-headed, a normal guy.”
It has taken four generations for the Kennedy family to get back to normal again. Who knows what they’ll find there now that they have?
Caroline Kennedy sent an email to supporters earlier today, remembering the moment her uncle Ted Kennedy lent his voice to President Obama’s campaign:
Four years ago today, I joined my Uncle Teddy and thousands of excited students at American University to endorse Barack Obama as the next president of the United States.
Barack Obama had stirred something in young people and the young at heart. I saw the passion in my own teenage children, and I heard it from a different generation of people who said they felt like they did when my father ran for president.
We felt strongly that we needed to elect a President who urged us to believe in ourselves, who could tie that belief to our highest ideals, and who understood that together we can do great things.
Four years later, as I think about what first inspired me to support Barack Obama, I’m proud we have a president who has fought hard for the values Teddy held dear, and stood up on issues that matter, regardless of the consequences.
Will you join me by saying what first inspired you to stand with Barack Obama?
Teddy understood that the challenges of health care aren’t political—they are personal. That’s why Teddy fought for 40 years to make health care a right and not a privilege for American families.
How proud he would have been to see his candidate sign the Affordable Care Act into law as president, giving all Americans the security of knowing that their health care will be there when they need it most.
In his speech four years ago today, Teddy reminded us all of that bright light of hope and possibility that shines even in the darkest hours. He knew that with Barack Obama as president, America would shine again. I don’t think he would be surprised to know that four years later, this president would have ended the war in Iraq, repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” and guaranteed women the right to equal pay for equal work.
The 2012 election will be harder than the last. And as you think about what role you can play this time, I want you to remember that when Teddy joined this campaign, it wasn’t just Barack Obama who drew him in.
It was you.
The possibility of a campaign run by ordinary people who are determined to change our country for the better and who are willing to work as hard as necessary inspired him then, and it’s what inspires me today.
Thanks for all you do. I’ll see you out there,