Saturday, August 30, 2008

Maybe We Can

So like a pompous narcissistic blogiator, I announced in my last blog entry to absolutely no one that I decided (pre-"The Speech", pre-McCain picking his VP-ILF) to not vote this coming November.

And then I was hit by a phenomenon described by Jan Hoffman in The New York Times.

April 8, 2008

Young Obama Backers Twist Parents’ Arms

The daily phone calls. The midnight e-mail. And, when college lets out, those dinner table declamations? Oh, please.

Senator Barack Obama’s devotees just won’t give their parents a break.

As the race for the Democratic presidential nomination continues, youthful volunteers for each candidate have been campaigning with bright-eyed brio, not only door-to-door but also at home. But the young supporters of Mr. Obama, who has captured a majority of under-30 primary voters, seem to be leading in the pestering sweepstakes. They send their parents the latest Obama YouTube videos, blog exhortations and “Tell Your Mama/Vote for Obama!” bumper stickers.

Megan Simpson, a Penn State senior, had not been able to budge her father, a Republican. But the day before the deadline for registering for the coming Democratic primary in Pennsylvania, she handed him the forms and threw in a deal-sweetener as well. “I said, ‘Dad, if you change your party affiliation in time to vote for Obama,’ ” recalled Ms. Simpson, 22, an Obama campus volunteer, “ ‘I will get you the paperwork the day after the primary if you want to switch back to being a Republican.’ ”

Thus did Ralph E. Simpson Jr., 50, construction company owner, become a newly minted Democrat. “I probably will switch my affiliation back,” Mr. Simpson said, “but I haven’t decided who I will vote for in the general election. If Meg keeps working on me, who knows?”

No poll has counted Obama supporters who made their choice at the urging of their children. But combined exit polls for all the primaries so far (excluding Florida and Michigan) show that Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton has edged out Mr. Obama, 50 percent to 46 percent, among voters ages 45 to 64 — those who are old enough, and then some, to be the parents of Mr. Obama’s young supporters.

But even politicians are mentioning the persuasiveness of their children, either in earnest or as political cover, as a factor in their Obama endorsements.

That list of Democrats includes Senator Bob Casey of Pennsylvania, Gov. Jim Doyle of Wisconsin, Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri, Gov. Kathleen Sebelius of Kansas and Senator Amy Klobuchar of Minnesota.

While politicians inevitably invoke children and the future, rarely have the political preferences of children themselves carried much weight with their elders. On the contrary: when baby boomer parents were the age their children are now, the ideological and social gap between generations was more pronounced. Parents were, by definition, authoritarian. Their children were, by definition, anti-.

But the sharp distinctions between generations have eroded. Parents now are exponentially more entwined with their offspring, inclined to place their children’s emotional well-being ahead of their own. Even when students live away at college, many parents call them and send text messages every day.

The Obama campaign was well positioned to capitalize on this veritable seamlessness. From the outset, Mr. Obama eagerly sought out young voters with his Internet operation and a widespread, efficient campus network. Those efforts are paying off: in all Democratic primaries to date (excluding Florida and Michigan), about 6 in 10 voters under age 30 have supported him, according to exit polls conducted by Edison/Mitofsky.

For some waffling primary voters, the relentless push by their children was good enough reason to capitulate...

Two Minutes after Barack Obama finished his acceptance speech in Denver, my daughter Sara -- who has yet to be romantically involved with a single Jewish boy her entire torrid dating life -- sent me the following 2-line text message: "If you vote for him I swear I'll marry a jew. Magen David." In our family, saying "Shield of David" is as close as we come to saying "I swear to God and all things sacred."

So Sara has given me until the end of the Republican convention to choose. The deal is simple: if I vote for an audacious multi-racial Muslim-turned-agnostic-turned-Christian, I get an ironclad guarantee from my eldest daughter that she will never marry an audacious multi-racial Muslim-turned-agnostic-turned-Christian.


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