After President-elect Barack Obama’s victory this fall, CNN political commentator Donna Brazile stated that his election was propelled by one constituency: the youth vote – the college kids who came out in numbers for Obama. Yet as the inauguration approaches, it’s becoming clear that this pivotal group will be underrepresented at the culmination of their great effort.
Every major network news station has said that D.C. is to expect anywhere from three to five million people to flock to the festivities next week. And yet, a major sentiment in conversations across campus is that many students, regardless of political affiliation, will stay in on Jan. 20th. They will watch the events from the comfort of their rooms – many of these the very students who sprinted to the White House on election night.
The University is kind enough to give us a day off for the inauguration; it’s a gesture most schools across the country will not make. Even if it was only due to expected street gridlock, students now have the opportunity to take in a historic moment. Yet the ability to do so is a pipe dream unless a student was one of the lucky few to get in touch with their local congressmen before tickets were gone.
The Obama team has pulled out all the stops for the upcoming events. No image, allusion or metaphor will go untouched on Inauguration Day. Obama will take the same route Lincoln did for his inauguration. He will even be sworn in on the same Bible. Millions across the country and possibly billions across the world will be able to see these iconic images.
But nothing can replace the feelings and emotions of actually being on the Mall. For those millions of young voters, nothing will. Many simply will not be able to attend. But if someone who went door to door for Obama wanted to witness his swearing in, the Obama team should have worked to make it happen.
Seated and standing along the inaugural route will be dignitaries, the financially blessed and those with all the right connections. Some of those people who jumped on the Obama bandwagon once he had won a state or two. Even some who had held on until the last possible moment and switched their candidate of choice.
Who will not get the chance to take it in? The youth who started the grassroots movement that became Obama’s campaign. Those who spent hours, days, weeks going door to door, talking about a candidate they believed in.
Barack Obama may look presidential come Inauguration Day, but at the beginning of this long and arduous road to the White House his odds were not high. Those young voters who were so inspired by his words and his message did not support him because he seemed the probable winner. They supported him because at the end of the day he stood for what they needed – change and hope for tomorrow.
They did not ask for anything in return, but it would be an exceptional sight for the world to see the faces of those young people who propelled Obama to his opening stage at his introduction as president of the United States.
-The writer is a freshman majoring in journalism.