Wednesday, April 23, 2008

Is Barack Obama the Cure for My Generational Apathy?

APRIL 19, 2008:

These days I wonder if kids are starting to turn off YouTube and care for the first time about politics. I admit I am a big fan of YouTube and any of my diminishing grades in school can be attributed to “Babies Eating Lemons.” However, I can’t include myself as one of the kids who never paid attention to politics.

In third grade I wrote a paper endorsing Bill Bradley for President. Granted my reason was that he looked like a nice guy and he played for my favorite basketball team, but still, it was good to get involved young—and I even got my parents to vote for him in the New York primary.

But many of my buddies really don’t give a shit. A few of them will watch The Daily Show (perhaps they prefer Monsieur Colbert) but few watch as religiously as myself. Anyway, I’m a political junkie. Anyone who's refreshed the Huffington Post or the Drudge Report twice within one minute knows how that feels. But can you really blame my peers—and often myself—for choosing iChat over C-SPAN?

We were born into a Bush and a war in Iraq. Then the next president did something mean to his wife and at a young age I had to learn that “blowjobs” were not special techniques for cleaning cars. Even worse, I had to learn it from Wolf Blitzer. That year I also learned what my therapist father told me about Freud was wrong: sometimes a cigar isn’t just a cigar. It was also a lesson that if a president lies, he will be prosecuted accordingly…

Then, as a member of Generation Fellatio, when I was in around fourth grade, my parents voted for someone who won the election but didn’t become president. Then, around 25 minutes from my 5th grade classroom, people flew planes into two buildings I used to be able to see out my window. Then, we had a Bush and a war in Iraq.

Teenagers hate cycles like this. We go through them every day. First period, second period, third period…take out the garbage, walk the dog, do homework, go to sleep (YouTube gets in there somewhere). Maybe, for my peers, Obama is a chance to break a painful cycle.

On Super Tuesday, I thought I was a hotshot for going to school at 7:00 in the a.m. with my friend to pass out Obama literature outside the gym where people were voting. We’re junior guys and when we got there we ran into some sophomore girls volunteering as well (Obama is a uniter!).

At around 7, after my friend picked me up, we saw two other junior guys from my school across from a firehouse. One was Korean, the other half-Jewish. They were holding Obama for President signs in the February cold.

I know it’s not 60’s activism, but moms and dads out there…how hard is it to get your teenager to get up for school on time?

Later I was in math with one of them.

“An Obama fan?” I asked as we experimented with trigonometric functions.

“Yeah,” he said. “My parents are voting for Hillary though.”

Lately in my home of Westchester County—where the Clintons live, incidentally—and I think all over the country, Generation Fellatio is slowly becoming Generation Obama. Kids see through the shit that comes out in political campaigns (which is why we’re turned off by them—to get away from the stink) and we rarely see that shit from Barack. We see a lot of it from that nice Westchester County lady though.

But that’s what happens right? We get older and sell out. We start accepting the status quo because trying otherwise has fucked us over so many times in the past. But if parents in Pennsylvania and North Carolina and Indiana try something different and listen to their kids, like Caroline Kennedy and Bob Casey did, this guy might have a chance in November. ‘Cause lately, I often find that as I’m procrastinating on YouTube, I’m watching one of Barack’s speeches.

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