For one, the election this year has garnered the attention of youths nationwide. YouTube is brimming with songs of praise for Obama - from Obama Girl's famous "I've got a Crush ... On Obama" to Will.I.Am singing "Yes We Can" to "The Michelle Obama Song" by the Hardy Boys. Some are inspirational, sung in cadence to Obama's speech, others are ... less appropriate.
Recently Saturday Night Live performed a skit involving Sarah Palin and Hillary Clinton giving a "joint address" to the nation. The show Saturday Night Live has a substantial teenage audience. Perhaps the mere fact that they would open their season premier with the parody of Palin and Clinton's joint address should clue people in to the deep involvement teens have in this election. The hilarious performance by Tina Fey as Gov. Sarah Palin was full of political quips. The startling resemblance between Fey and Palin aside, the clever and exaggerated dialogue was wildly applauded not only in the media but across the teen community. As "Sarah" cocked a gun and posed with a pout in front of the camera and "Hillary" tore apart the podium in anger, my friends laughed and eagerly sent this video on to their friends. Since then, "I can see Russia from my house!" has become a regular status message on Facebook and instant messengers among Danville teens.
Just the other day, walking down the halls, I saw a student showing his friends his "Obama watch."
"Look!" he giddily reported. "My watch has Obama's face on it!"
Percia Safar of Monte Vista High recently began a Young Democrat's Club at school. She created a Facebook group for the club (everything's done on Facebook nowadays, isn't it?) and hosts events that encourage members to don their Obama-wear. Percia Safar personally ordered a bright red Obama shirt, featuring the slogan "I'm fired up!" in the front and "He's ready to go!" on the back.
Hallway debates are commonplace. As Percia told me recently, one boy snidely remarked, "Yeah, he's ready to go home!" when he saw her pass with her Obama shirt. Her response? A rundown of all the reasons why Obama's policies trump those of McCain.
When asked, Hinh Tran of Monte Vista had stories of his own to report. Every afternoon, he would go on AOL Instant Messenger and engage in arguments of epic proportion with former Monte Vista student Armand Domalewski, an independent who will be voting Republican in November's election. A few days ago, I went on Armand's blog site and read the following excerpt:
Hinh: causes mccain to slump over and die due to a lack of universal healthcare
AD: leaving Obama with no one to protect him from the Islamofascist threat
Hinh: which evaporates as warhawks such as mccain die off or are voted out of office because voters want change they can believe in
AD: too bad that once he takes over, change'll be the only thing left in our pockets
AD: reminds Hinh he should be doing his homework, not being lazy like the liberal he is
Hinh: reminds Armand that like any conservative, he distracts other people from the real issues
It's getting cattier as the elections approach. Especially for this year's seniors, some of whom will be old enough to vote in November. Though she will be too young to vote, Percia Safar would like to volunteer as a student election officer. Prabs Upadrashta, a former Monte Vista student now attending Pomona College, plans on flying to swing states and convincing more people to vote.
No matter where you look, it's obvious that teens are pumped for this election. It's cool to wear Obama shirts (though not so cool to wear McCain shirts around here...), support your favorite candidate with buttons on your tote bag, and, of course, in an election like this, where there's more energy than any previous election, it's always cool to go out and vote.
Maria Shen, reporting on Generation Y, is a senior at Monte Vista High School. She founded Contra Costa County's Young Bohemians creative writing club and is editor of Voicebox, a literary magazine. E-mail her at firstname.lastname@example.org.