“My president is black, my Lambo’s [Lamborghini] blue,” rapped Young Jeezy back in 2008, recently after Barack Obama became the first African-American commander-in-chief of the United States. But, is Obama still cool enough to lure the voting segment that helped him win in 2008?
Obama, overwhelmed with support from a constituency that seemed to arise from every corner of our society, defeated a Vietnam War hero, Sen. John McCain, by a 7 percent margin in 2008, which was the largest margin of victory since the 8 percent margin President Clinton defeated Sen. Dole by in 1996.
With media outlets tagging behind the Illinois senator like ducklings, it was hard to avoid seeing Obama’s face daily. The basketball playing, rap music appreciating, superstar candidate made history that was only possible by gaining admiration from a powerful niche of voters — young Americans.
Change? Hope? Cool. Obama walked the walk and talked the talk with swagger that hadn’t been seen in the Super Bowl of politics since Ronald Reagan. Think about it. How many of our past candidates have openly admitted to taking part in experimenting with marijuana? None.
That confession made him tremendously appealing to the young generation of voters. “He’s just like me, a regular guy,” thought many young adults like myself. He made it cool to support and talk politics, because he was at one time, one of us. He understood the struggles of someone not borne into upper-class privilege, unlike the vast majority of presidents we’ve had and many Republican conservatives like his opponent McCain.
Shooting hoops for fun, listening to hip-hop and emphasizing the need for leisure gave him the demeanor of a cool-cat. His easy-going and smooth nature even landed him on a cover of Ebony magazine that displayed the caption, “The 25 Coolest Brothers of All-Time: Black Cool.”
Although they did an exceptional job, Obama and his team didn’t grow his constituency pool to the ocean it became by themselves. The Democratic candidate had major support from top tier celebrities too.
Fame and fortune in the form of celebrities such as Robert De Niro and Jennifer Aniston played a part in making supporting Obama cool and appealing. Will Smith even compared Obama to Nelson Mandela.
We thought, “Come on. If Will Smith’s on board, why shouldn’t we be, too?” The Black Eyed Peas’ Will.I.Am. even released the single “A New Day” a few weeks prior to the election, supporting Obama and the possibility of him being the first black president. Talk about star power.
Here we are almost four years later and less than three months away from Election Day. It seems Obama is still the mild-mannered, unusually optimistic and charismatic cool-cat young Americans fell in love with in 2008. During his term we’ve seen him at the center of famous outings with famous people time and time again.
In 2008, his character and influential friends largely helped him win a term, but will his character have the same appeal in the 2012 election? Will it still be cool to support Obama simply because he’s Obama? Or will he have to rely on what most presidents must: His health-care plan and foreign policy? We’ll just have to wait and see what Obama and his campaign team use to try to gain a new generation of voters and hang onto his previous young supporters this fall.
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