Youth debate issues, avoid partisan name calling in forum with Obama

MTV, BET, and Country Music Television all took a break from their regularly scheduled programming yesterday, October 14, to cover a youth-oriented town hall style forum between President Barack Obama and young people of all races, faiths and political orientations. 

The crowd of over 200 participants asked a range of questions. Interestingly, most of the questions were on topics that the mainstream media are not covering, including the peace situation in Darfur and the DREAM act, which would allow the children of undocumented workers to attend American colleges legally.

The diversity of the questions showed that young voters are less concerned with inside-the-beltway common knowledge and more concerned with broader questions that really define what kind of a country we are inheriting. Issues such as race, environmental justice, immigration and the economy were also raised. 

Thousands of participants were asked via Twitter to write in with their greatest hopes and greatest fears. The hope category was a list of dreams for better teachers and an end to gun violence in our cities; Obama assured those in the audience and watching on television that both issues were of the highest importance to his administration.

The fear category was dominated by fears that reflected Fox News headlines: “My greatest fear is that we’re becoming a communist country” and “Obama gets reelected” were a couple of examples. Obama responded that “We’re all Americans” and that “We all want what’s best for our country.” The president also assured voters that, if we could work together and get things accomplished, the political rhetoric in our country would calm down and we wouldn’t resort to “name calling.” He spoke of a political system where we forget about the next election and look at what we’re doing for the next generation. 

This forum’s model has been used a few times by presidents and presidential candidates as a way to reach out to the youth and it once again seems to have grabbed a lot of attention. The true breakthrough and real inspirational moment came not from the president but from the youth who participated.

Despite the town hall forum and diversity of political beliefs, not one yelling match broke out, nobody had to be escorted out by security, and no one even spoke in the inflammatory rhetoric that has become to common.

Considering the heated moments over the past couple of years, full of town hall outrage and accusations of violence and racism, it seems that the adults and even members of congress should have really watched the special, if only to learn a little something about manners, decency in democracy and how one should conduct one’s self in the political arena.

The future leaders of America have once again cut through the jargon and gotten to the root of what is important to sustain a great nation such as ours -and they could even do it in a civilized fashion.

Image: The Obama administration uses sites such as Facebook and Twitter to interact with voters, especially young people Official White House Twitter account


Jordan Farrar
Jordan Farrar

Jordan Farrar is a fan of European football, reggae music and camping, and played the bass guitar for a local garage band in Baltimore. He has been involved in youth and student struggles since high school and works with various groups aimed at fighting racism, sexism and homophobia.