What do President Barack Obama and North Korean leader Kim Jong Un have in common?
Many ultra-conservatives may say a great deal. But last week, the two illustrated at least one distinct likeness that all people, regardless of political views, would likely agree on: They both understand the importance of focusing on their respective Nation’s younger generations to garner and build support.
According to Young America’s Foundation, Obama has spent one out of every 11 days of late visiting college campuses. The President has attempted in his visits to institutions of higher learning to convince students that he has endured similar struggles to those they may be exposed to right now as they take on student debt and worry about the jobless economy they will face when they graduate. Reports indicate that his claims about his own struggles, however, are vastly inflated.
Knowing that many young people opt to spend their time consuming the latest entertainment news rather than trolling political blogs, Obama has also leaned heavily on Hollywood to garner youth support. It is no secret that the President enjoys rubbing elbows with members of Tinseltown’s old guard like George Clooney and Jon Bon Jovi, but an event last Thursday shows that he wants young Hollywood on his side as well. A story in The Hollywood Reporter last week said that Obama met privately at the Beverly Hilton with two dozen of Hollywood’s popular young stars to urge them to get involved in his re-election campaign.
Some of the names on the list included “The Avengers” star Jeremy Renner, “Glee” actress Dianna Agron, “Star Trek’s” Zachary Quinto, “Southland’s” Ben McKenzie, Jessica Alba, Bryan Greenberg, Adam Rodriguez, Zach Braff, Brandon Routh, Ian Somerhalder, Jared Leto, Kal Penn and Sophia Bush. All are stars that many people in the coveted 18-24 voter bloc know by name. The publication reports that the meeting was part of the Obama re-election campaign’s “Young America Effort,” organized to build support and turnout among the younger voters who were key to the President’s election four years ago.
Across the world in North Korea, the country’s new young leader, Kim Jong Un, has in the past several months focused on the youths of his own Nation. Kim has reportedly visited schools, the zoo and a Pyongyang funfair. And last week, he spent time singing the praises of the country’s Children’s Union, which youngsters join at age 7 until moving at 13 to the Kim Il Sung Socialist Youth League.
One of the most often used political memes for several decades has been “children are our future.” Both Obama and Kim – and, undoubtedly, political leaders all over the world — know that there is truth to the expression. Whether the goal is to garner support for winning elections in the short term or cementing a political ideology in the long term, youth support is invaluable.