I live in Washington, DC where today we're doing our primary voting. I go over to a local union building for the vote in my neighborhood. I'm pretty much set regarding who I'll vote for, but I've curiously found myself having some anti-anointment pangs. I felt this way when Clinton looked like the "presumptive nominee" and I feel this way now that Obama is nearly the presumptive nominee. Obama will win all the primaries today. He is steam-rolling through the primaries and caucuses in general, he has overtaken Hillary in national polls and appears slated to win key upcoming primaries, and I'm pretty sure now that he'll be the Democratic candidate come March 4th. In other words, I think it's over. This is perhaps getting ahead of things, but the signs are undeniable, in my view. So, today's vote - whose outcome is all but certain - feels like an anointment.
My colleague Peter Levine and his outfit, CIRCLE, have been doing the numbers on the so-called youth vote. But, anecdotally-speaking, you should see my students. I haven't seen this before. Obama is a rock star. Actually, more than that. It's near-religious. I know this theme is not new, but it's interesting to see it in the concrete. Look, in the majority of their adult life, they have known only the Bush administration. They know only policy disaster and political dismay. Obama in many ways represents their multicultural, hopeful world. The excitement is clear.
These are policy graduate students. They're not unaware of concrete policy issues and political machinations. In fact, many of them are already close to being experts who will eventually take leadership roles on policy issues. Our school has many connections in government and the policy world, but this isn't Harvard or Yale where the students are already themselves anointed into well-connected positions of leadership whether merited or not. This means that the future is less certain for them. After experiencing years of an administration that has closed off much of the government to smart, motivated, and right-intentioned people, where some - such as at the State Department - explicitly state that they've been biding their time until the next administration, and others have simply turned towards other career paths, Obama represents in his very person - regardless of campaign policy pledges - a promising, open future. Shouldn't any of us be voting for those future generations as well as ourselves?
Although I'm not keen on anointments, less of the future is mine and my generation's than my students'.