By Rafy Evans
I remember my walk down the hallway towards the room where I was to place my mock-vote. It was my sixth grade year at a private Catholic school, but teachers thought it was important that we be able to feel like we were voicing our opinions. Even then, I realized that the majority of the votes from us kids were influenced by our parents, but we still felt like we were achieving something.
I still remember the box I checked in, and the way my friends came up to me afterwards asking who I voted for. I didn’t know anything about politics at the time. I knew the way my mom talked about him was different from the way my dad did, but I didn’t know what that meant for me. I knew that there was a lot of people that kept talking about his birth certificate, but there was an unprecedented energy around him that I’d never witnessed before. He spoke of change, and change sounded good to me. I liked the idea of change.
I didn’t know it then, but I know now that a mock-vote was the beginning of a journey into realizing my own political views and opinions. That vote, was the beginning of stepping away from my family’s political frame of mind and discovering my own. That it all happened under the Obama administration.
Over the past eight years, I’ve grown up under the Obama presidency and staff, and I could not have asked for better role models in both him and First Lady Michelle. They have exhibited nothing but class, respect, and understanding towards every situation presented to them over the course of his presidency. Michelle has reminded the world what a strong woman is capable of, all while putting her best foot forward as a First Lady. Barack feels like a friend, one that has advocated for my best interests and those of this country. I’ve watched the pair of them at every Kennedy Center Honors for years, singing along to old tunes and smiling at heroes we both share. They’ve shown me that change is possible, and it begins with each individual. They’ve instilled a yearning for continuous change, as we know that as we grow, so must our country.
I represent an entire community of young people that have very different views from the views of their parents. I represent a large group of well-educated, young Americans that are politically engaged and motivated. I am just one of those “liberal college kids” that genuinely believes that I can help change the world. That came to be due to the motivation of the Obama presidency.
Here was a president that seemed to speak my language, from music to culture, helping broaden my understanding and educate me in different areas. I didn’t know anything about foreign affairs or LGBTQ+ rights, but now I do. Here was a man that held poetry nights at the White House, where Lin Manuel-Miranda would go on to perform the opening song from his musical, “Hamilton” – before it was selling out months in advance. Here was a man that not only exhibited his grief towards the terrors that struck our nation, but took action against them. He was passionate towards his country, but also passionate towards those that didn’t always feel that their country was helping them.
The passion that he has showcased over the course of his presidency is what will stay with me, along with his Spotify playlist, of course. He has showed Americans what it is like to show compassion, empathy, and respect towards all communities that make up our nation. We are all citizens, and Obama reminds us of that.
I must shout out Joe Biden, for being an advocate against sexual assault on college campuses, as well as the coolest Vice President the United States has ever seen. For showing love and friendship to all Americans as the foundation for a successful friendship and movement. He felt like our country’s ~hip~ grandpa, to say the very least.
The future may seem scary to some of us, but with the lessons that have been instilled in us from this revolutionary administration, we must remember that the change comes from us. We, as individuals and as communities, are capable of anything and everything.
It has been a pleasure to grow up under this administration, and it is my honor to keep the idea of hope in my head and in my heart.
Yes we did. Yes we can.
“I am asking you to believe— not in my ability to bring about change, but in yours.” – Barack Obama, Farewell Address