Dear Sen. Obama:
Early one fall morning during my senior year of high school, my principal’s voice crackled over the loudspeaker to announce the new president of the senior class. I remember this distinctly, because as far as I was aware, there had been no election. I hadn’t seen one single poster imploring me to vote for this president — or anyone else, for that matter.
At that moment, I began to hate politicians. After that farce of an election, I watched as the supposed leaders of the Student Government Association did nothing in school to improve my life, yet they were always allowed to skip class to participate in “activities.” They spent most of their time out of school getting drunk or high, and then the principal and teachers held them up as shining examples of perfection. As far as I was concerned, the whole system stank.
My opinion of politicians didn’t improve any during college, when my class president started dating one of my friends. He came to my house for dinner a few times and even tried to be charming, but he was forever looking over my shoulder and darting off when someone he deemed more important entered the room. He did nothing to improve my now-ingrained belief that politicians, by definition, are self-centered, power hungry pricks.
I suffered through the presidential elections of 2000 and 2004, forced to choose between Bad Choice Number One and Bad Choice Number Two. Again, after a farce of an election, I watched as our country faltered — led by a politician who was too self-centered, too arrogant, too audaciously full of himself and his ten-gallon hat to listen, to learn to work for what the people needed, instead of only for himself and his high-ranking friends.
I still hated politicians.
And then the 2008 campaign cycle came along. I started hearing an awful lot about change. I researched the candidates, and looked behind the ads as best as I was able. And I started to think that you, Sen. Barack Obama, might just be the first politician I had ever encountered in whom I would be willing to place an iota of trust.
You are smart; you are well-spoken, thoughtful, and nuanced. But mostly, I think, you are shrewd and have figured out how to market yourself to people like me — the disenchanted 20-somethings who feel disenfranchised and overlooked. You have sold us on the fact that you will hear what we have to say, and not spend dinner looking past our shoulders to find a fatter cat to chat up.
As I type this, I know that I have been hooked by your marketing campaign. I want to smack myself, because I know this relationship is going to end badly, but damn it, I believe in you.
And I beg of you: Do not let me down.