Rally’s purpose lost in chaos, partisanship

Campus was abuzz last week in preparation for Friday’s “Moving America Forward” rally, one of the Democratic National Committee’s latest in a slew of college visits aimed at protecting Democrat incumbents by rallying the youth vote.

Hye You | Daily Trojan

The headliner was a man who had rewritten history, conjured up a collective youth political passion, agreed with us that Kanye West is a jackass and caught a fly with his bare hand.

The anticipation was at fever pitch.

But with the onslaught of visitors, rampant confusion among organizers and the partisan tilt to the proceedings, it was a bittersweet day for the brave students who made it to Alumni Park to hear President Barack Obama tell us to Fight On.

Not since Willy Wonka had there been such commotion about the color of tickets. At 9:30 a.m., volunteers for the event came around to pass out green tickets, which we were told would secure us a spot in the front near the president.

Five minutes later, other volunteers made the rounds again, this time passing out blue tickets. A general uproar ensued: What did the blue tickets do? Were they better? Scrums began forming around volunteers, people madly grabbing at the pieces of paper, shaking their tickets like little red books. Everyone wanted one of each — a rainbow bouquet of miscommunication — just to be safe.

By 10 a.m., a variety of technicolor tickets had forced their way into existence via the gossip mill. Rumors made their way up and down the line about scores of new tickets, each granting better seating than the last. One woman a few feet from me in line was under the impression there was a special pink ticket somewhere out there that would grant the carrier practically unfettered access to the president.

Disorganization at the entrance to the rally owed to the sheer volume of people on campus. Volunteers were earnest but entirely unequipped to deal with the chaos, and organizers resorted to telling crowd members to ignore them altogether.

“If a volunteer tries to take your ticket,” one shouted at the crowd near the metal detectors, “do not let them.”

We were camels trying to pass through the eyes of needles, but that was to be expected with a turnout of 37,500 people. Admission was open to the public, and though it was exciting to see the community come together, it quickly became clear throughout the rally that the purpose had shifted, perhaps to accommodate a group of listeners that were not all young.

Though the purported intent of the rally was to drum up the youth vote, (and, should the youth vote Democrat, that would not be the worst thing), the message was quickly diluted by the overly partisan speeches and glut of warm-up acts.

Gubernatorial candidate Jerry Brown — not the best orator in good circumstances — received one of the loudest applauses of the day when he began his address by announcing he wouldn’t be speaking long.

Finally, Sen. Barbara Boxer introduced the main attraction, and the president took the stage. His 20-minute speech captivated the audience, but surprisingly, given his usual diplomatic reserve, rehashed the general theme of the rally: Republicans are sending us to hell in a handbasket.

Obama spent a good four minutes elaborating on the metaphor of Republicans driving the country into the ditch, with Democrats pushing the stalled car out while Republicans simply throw dirt around.

It was not the most eloquent the president has ever been, and when it turned out the whole spiel was a set-up for a punchline about the initials of “reverse” and “drive,” it was hard not to be dispirited.

Obama hasn’t been faring as well with the youth vote in the polls recently, something he only addressed peripherally by asking the crowd to summon up the fervor of the 2008 election. A recent AP/mtvU poll shows that the president’s approval rating among college students has dropped from 60 to 44 percent.

If he was hoping to raise his stock at USC, he might have slightly missed the mark. Getting students to appreciate such a complicated beast as politics is difficult, and partisanship is a major deterrent.

Had Obama’s rally truly been a rock the vote event, a series of speeches aimed specifically at the youth demographic  with one unifying theme — get to the polls on Nov. 2 — the occasion would have been less muddied.

Anyone who attended Friday would attest that it was a memorable event. Snafus in planning are bound to happen when a crowd of more than twice the size of the undergraduate population is squeezed into less than a mile radius.

But the youth — the very votes the Democrats are trying to snare — were not placed at the forefront of the rally, in admission and in content. Because of this, the day was ultimately underwhelming.

It was an historic event, and an unmissable one. But it was far from inspiring.

Lucy Mueller is a senior majoring in cinema-television production and a managing editor for the Daily Trojan. Her column, “Everything is Copy, “ runs Mondays.

5 replies
  1. Joe
    Joe says:

    Gotta love the ditch metaphor. If Obama drives his car into a ditch, he thinks he should put the car into “D” to get it out. Wait a minute…

    • Fail
      Fail says:

      You’re doing the metaphor wrong. The ditch and the D/R were completely different metaphors, the only thing in common was that they both involved cars. Active listening, my friend, it will take you a long way.

  2. hsr0601
    hsr0601 says:

    Title : A businessman is angry at his lost cash bag.
    A businessman is drowning in the ocean.
    Stimulus : we should rescue him immediately.
    Power first : Nope ! How do we pay for it ? Just let him go under much like Lehman Brothers.
    Stimulus : He is dying right now.
    Power first : Nope ! You can’t save his money bag.
    Stimulus ( clock is ticking ) : : We can do everything.
    Go under : We are serious about jobs. Where are jobs ?, echoed by the angry businessman.

    Chanting deficit :
    1. Amid chanting deficit, the same old failed policy.
    2. Amid chanting deficit, hands-off approach over huge trade deficit from oil money spill & trade imbalance with China from remorseless health care premium.
    3. Unfortunately, as a direct consequence of remorseless health care premium, numerous folks have no choice but to hang onto affordable offerings, since one in two households is said to face a hard decision between necessity & drug.
    4. Inaction cost in relation to health care reform totals $9trillion over the next decade.

    5. Over the next 10 years, total Bush tax cut costs will equal $3.9 trillion, …. the tax cuts would increase deficits by nearly $4 trillion between 2005 and 2014.
    The most critical debt : Personal Bankruptcy
    The current recession came from Personal Bankruptcy largely as a consequence of the relentless health care costs, pain at the pump, and the subsequent subprime mortgage crisis.
    Facing huge trade deficit ( job creation money ) from oil money spill & trade imbalance with China, the primary economic policy of previous administration was ” spending baby “to the great delight of republicans’ sponsors.

  3. Scott Sternberg
    Scott Sternberg says:

    The rally’s primary purpose was ALWAYS to be a campaign event. The secondary purpose was to get out the youth vote, but the White House and the Democratic Party always intended this to be a campaign stop, a chance for President Obama to stump for Democratic candidates in California.

    • Money
      Money says:

      You’re right, Scott. I would even argue that the REAL goal of the entire event was to raise money for Boxer at her private luncheon in the Campus Center. Having 37,000 people show up to see the speeches was a nice side-event to get media coverage for the Dems.

      And I disagree with Lucy–I thought the car metaphor was humorous and worked well with the overall tone of the event. This was not a “we shall transcend the red state/blue state divide to become a more united nation” speech, this was a “Republicans bad, Democrats good, please go vote!” speech, and if anyone showed up to the event thinking it would be otherwise, they should have done their homework or just used some simple common sense. It’s less than 2 weeks until an election that is going to be bad news for the President’s party, who honestly thought this was going to be anything but a campaign stop?

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