From texting and BBM to Skype and iChat, college students take full advantage of all the high-tech modes of communication at their disposal. But Thursday night, they communicated the old-school way, by phone with First Lady Michelle Obama for a national conference call about why the November election is so important to young people.
The call was up close and personal as Obama made her pitch to young people with a personal and cordial tone. "The president stands up for us, because this election is not just about Obama, it’s about all of us," she said.
Much of the success of Obama’s victory in 2008 can be attributed to the overwhelming support of young people. Mrs. Obama is appealing for their help this time around as well, saying, “The fact is that all of you are the heart and soul of this campaign. The work you do, registering new voters, talking to fellow students to get them focused and fired up, is at the core of everything we are doing.”
She went on to detail the administration’s efforts that have had a direct impact on young people and to elicit their help in spreading the news to others. She asked those on the call to tell others about what the president has done to double the number of Pell Grants that are issued, halt the rising cost of tuition and insist that Congress act to stop interest rates for student loans from doubling on July 1.
College students who also serve as campaign workers were on hand. One caller wanted to know what the president can do to help them find jobs upon graduation. "For those of you at community colleges, Barack has helped people get competitive skills and jobs training, and once you get a job you won’t have to worry about health insurance anymore because you can stay on your parents’ insurance until you are 26 years old,” she responded.
Another caller asked about how to defeat voter apathy among young people who feel disengaged by the voting process altogether. The first lady was direct in her admonishment for everyone to stay on track. She said, “None of this progress would have happened if our young people stayed home and didn’t step up and if they don’t let their voices be heard. Don’t be frustrated, just get focused."
She concluded by sharing what she feels is the bottom line in this election. “It all boils down to one question: Will we continue the progress we fought for or will we let everything slip away? We have to keep moving this country forward. But Barack cannot do this alone,” she said.
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(Photo: Alex Wong/Getty Images)