Young Activists Inspired To Participate In Politics

By Eva Wolchover

The Boston Herald
January 21, 2009 Wednesday

Young political activists say the excitement generated by Barack
Obama winning the White House is living on past the ballot box,
and changing the way they view politics.

"I think a percentage of these volunteers and activists will stay
involved in politics, higher than anyone expected," said Jirair
Ratevosian, 28, of Boston, co-chairman of Armenian Americans for
Obama and Biden. "People still feel that they’re a part of it. And
people want to stay involved because the rest is yet to come. The
work hasn’t even started."

Obama won 66 percent of voters aged 18 to 29 in November.

Some 54.4 percent of Americans under age 30 voted – just one percentage
point lower than the all-time high for youth voter turnout in 1972 –
and young voters constituted 18 percent of the overall electorate.

The election seems to have struck a galvanizing chord, said Obama
fund-raiser Alan D. Solomont.

"The era of the baby boomer is over," he said. "There is a new
generation that is more interested in politics, that has a greater
belief that government can be a solution to our problems, that is
less idealistic and more pragmatic and that is more comfortable in
a diverse world."

Student activist Emily Cunningham, 18, a senior at Cardinal Spellman
High School in Brockton, agrees.

"I think young people generally are more excited about politics"
said Cunningham, who plans to work with the new administration as a
leader of STAND, a national anti-genocide organization.

The Obama team’s extraordinary success in utilizing the Internet to
recruit volunteers is likely to continue to attract young people, said
Larry J. Sabato of the University of Virginia’s Center for Politics.

"Obama had loads of young people on his voter file," Sabato said. "He
can certainly communicate with them."

The candidate "was able to inspire younger people because he came
down to their level – to social networking sites, like
and," Ratevosian said, citing the new, interactive and sites as savvy ways to continue to
court young supporters.

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