Sep 222008
 
Authors: Elyse Jarvis

Monday morning, the Collegian had the opportunity to sit in on a phone conference between Michelle Obama, whose husband Sen. Barack Obama is vying for the presidential office, and other college reporters.

Fresh off a rally event supporting Sen. Obama’s campaign in Madison, Wis., yesterday, Michelle Obama said “couple thousand” young people in the crowd reflected the significance of the youth vote this election.

“It’s important to note that young people have had a huge impact on how far this campaign has come,” she said. “. I think that young people have really found their voice in this campaign, and I think that they see the future in this candidate. Many young people have left their schools, their jobs, they’re sleeping on floors, they’ve been traveling around the country for 19 months (to follow the Obama campaign) because they know what’s at stake.”

Obama spoke of her amazement at the amount of young students actively participating in the political process thus far, but also cited 2004 statistics that show only half of all young people who were eligible to vote registered, and of those registered, only 20 percent showed up to the polls.

“But this year,” she said, “we’ve got to turn that trend around, and I think we’re doing that. Young folks know as well as anyone why this election matters, and many have already experienced how the choices made in Washington have everyday impacts on your daily lives.”

Obama spoke of opportunities that the current U.S. presidential administration has the opportunity to remedy and has instead “delayed,” including the country’s “bad news” economy, high unemployment rates, and education debts that “weigh (graduated students) down by almost $22,000 in student loans.”

These issues, in addition to global warming, the search for renewable sources of energy, health care and the violence still plaguing areas like Darfur and Iraq — “places torn apart by violence, where American leadership could mean the difference between a future of war or peace,” she said — are the ones that America’s voting youth may affect.

“. The next president, whoever it is, will be inheriting a crisis here at home and abroad and in a way, that’s going impact how they think about that job and how much they can get done.”

“This election is going to determine the course of an entire generation. … Young people . will be dealing with the effects of this election for the rest of their lives,” she said.

News Editor Elyse Jarvis can be reached at news@collegian.com.

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