For the past few months, each schoolteacher, radio broadcaster and soccer mom has been voicing his or her opinion on the presidential nominees. As Nov. 4 draws near, the media has become a constant buzz of 'Obama promises this!' and 'McCain experience shows that!' Everyone is either strongly debating or fiercely committed to the box they'll check in that election booth. Every kid who looks over 14 years old has been reminded to register to vote. Multiple times.
But this election, there is one key difference between 2008 and other presidential election years. This time, a large, unrepresented demographic is voicing their opinions. That's right -teenagers are speaking out about the next Mr. President.
We watch presidential debates. We go to rallies in downtown Portland. We know that Joe Biden isn't the guy down the street. And we are making our own decisions about who we we'll vote for - hypothetically, of course. My friends and I have had legitimate discussions about the positive and negative of the hopeful presidents and their running mates.
Many of the kids I know are pro-Obama (it is Oregon, after all.) And I mean pro-Obama. As in, bought-the-T-shirt, have-the-bumper-sticker pro-Obama. Likewise, there are the McCain supporters: a navy blue sign in the front yard and a matching magnet on the fridge. Even more of my friends are undecided, waiting for press conferences and campaign ads to make their decision.
But to be blunt, why do we care? Teens aren't famous for being world-wise and politically savvy.
I'd say there are two major contributing factors to teens' heightened interest: the dismal state of the country and the promising facets of the nominees.
As long as the country is running smoothly, national debt is at a minimum and people aren't dying in a prolonged, costly and ineffective war, kids don't really notice who's leading the US of A. But let me tell you, after the number George W. Bush did on the country, even we want to know who is going to - as they say on Saturday Night Live - 'Fix it!'
Our college funds are depleting as the stock market nosedives. The war in Iraq drags on and on, costing more lives of loved ones every month. And our leader is now more of a parody than a legitimate politician. And let's not even start about the trillion-whatever dollar debt. It's depressing. Teens, like adults, need the economy and the morale of the country back up again.
But enough of the negative. The second factor is far more positive. This election, the nominees are kid-friendly, prominent in the media, and - most importantly - entertaining. Barack Obama and his campaign team have revolutionized the election trail. He appears on TV or in the newspaper every day, and his rallies attract movie-star-sized crowds. His messages of hope have inspired all age groups. And, like JFK before him, he is photogenic, eloquent and highly capable of manipulating modern media to propel him, very possibly, into the White House.
John McCain may not be as eloquent as Obama, but he also uses television and Internet to make himself a constant factor in teenage lives. The man has a MySpace! And possibly the most entertaining person in all of 2008 is his running mate, possible future Vice President Sarah Palin. The 'hockey mom' quickly rose to prominence. I mean, really, Tina Fey's impersonation of the Alaskan governor on Saturday Night Live is to die for. If you haven't seen the many parody skits, stop reading this now and go to You Tube 'Tina Fey as Sarah Palin.' It's worth it.
Furthermore, both of the nominees are capable of and dedicated to leading this country into better times. And that's inspiring to teens.
So yes, this election, we care. We have strong, if varying, opinions about who should sit in the Oval Office. We have high hopes for what the country can become under a new leadership. And we'll be waiting, with our parents and friends, to see who wins on Election Day.