Flames of the Torch

Over the weekend, Senator Barack Obama surpassed Senator Hillary Clinton for the first time in delegate votes. As of Feb. 19, Obama is leading by a margin of 56 delegates, even with Clinton’s command of the superdelegate vote. As a result, the press has all but counted Clinton out of the race.

Hillary Clinton was leading the race from the outset. Yet the moment Barack took even a marginal lead, it seemed as if the press abandoned Senator Clinton as a lost cause.
The main reason attributed to Obama’s recent surge is undeniably the support he has gained from young voters. One has to wonder what exactly has made the Illinois senator so appealing in the eyes of the significant college age group.

For starters, college students see Obama as a genuine, honest candidate, perhaps the only one. He also brings a youth and energy to his campaign that is unparalleled by his opponent.

Students see the need for change in our government, and for many, Obama is the only one who promises it and seems as if he will actually deliver it. He calls for the need to change the status quo, which is exactly what college voters want from their new president.

Some of the major issues that students think the senator from Illinois can actually resolve are the problems of the recession in the economy, the Iraq war, and the need for healthcare reform. Every candidate has spoken of plans to deal with these problems, but Obama’s proposals seem to inspire the most confidence in the student population.

Despite all this, he is a relatively inexperienced candidate, with only a little over three years of U.S. Senate experience under his belt. His time in office pales in comparison to the wide experience of Senator Clinton, whose time in Washington spans over a decade when counting her experience as a first lady.

Experience, or lack thereof, is exactly what brought about the end of John Edward’s campaign in the 2004 Democratic primary elections. Edwards received a great deal of criticism for his lack of experience in public office. At the start of the primary race, he was seen as a dynamic candidate that had the potential to bring a breath of fresh air to the rigid status quo of Washington.

Sound familiar?

However, Barack Obama is leading the primary race, even with what might appear as his experience handicap.

Professor Fred Cocozzelli of the Government and Politics department, though not a specialist in American politics, says from his own observations, that “there is a sense of excitement that people are responding to. Obama’s background as a community organizer gives him experience in motivating people. He has a well organized campaign.”

Professor Cocozzelli also says that Obama distinguishes himself in his experience as an organizer in the 60’s, while Edwards was only a trial lawyer prior to his run for president.

Even though Hillary Clinton has experience over Obama, some people do not believe her words are genuine. She has been too immersed in Washington politics, which has led her to be associated with the “Old Guard.” Students, such as freshman Valerie Dorcelus, feel that Clinton is not as charismatic as her opponent.

“Obama’s very charismatic and he attracts many people. Hillary is boring and it seems as if her husband is running, not her.”
Dorcelus goes on to say that it has nothing at all to do with experienceWhat does matter is the need for a visionary outlook to solve the problems plaguing the nation right now, especially the recession.

This year, people want something different. They want to see new faces in the highest offices in our country, not just a repetition of names like Bush and Clinton. The intense enthusiasm shown by the youth for Obama’s campaign could even be called a modern-day equivalent of the rise of JFK.
Kennedy’s image of youthful energy and charisma led him to win his party’s nomination over politicians embodying the status quo, and Obama seems to be in a position to do the same.

Come November, change might just be in the air.