Former UVSC student Joe Vogel has compiled a group of essays written by students supporting Sen. Barack Obama’s presidential run.
The book, while not an official Obama campaign activity, contains the personal stories of young people in the trenches of one of the most exciting and significant elections in American history-and reveals why they are determined to make their voices count in 2008.
The College Times‘ Jack Waters interviewed Vogel about the book, Sen. Obama, and the youth movement.
College Times: The Obama Movement’s initial release was back in Sept., will there be a second edition?
Joe Vogel: Yes. It’s in the first printing, and we will release a second edition this May.
CT: Will there be new content in the upcoming edition?
JV: Oh yeah. It’s almost an entirely new book. It will include a full account of the campaign from Iowa to the present, the latest statistics on youth participation, Obama speeches, positions on issues young people care about, and a foreword by Cornell West. I’ve been working hard on it. In the meantime, the first edition has become an Amazon.com bestseller.
CT: What was the experience of putting together a book like this, one of such national import at this time?
JV: It was amazing. Like so many others working in this campaign, it’s the only time in my life that I have felt passionately about supporting a presidential candidate. And it’s not just Obama as a person that has people so excited, it’s the grassroots movement he has inspired. He has reintroduced the idea of citizenship in a democracy.
CT: Have you heard from the Obama camp directly? Have they had anything to say about the book?
JV: Yeah. I’ve had conversations with several people from the campaign about the book, including the campaign’s youth director, Hans Riemer. The book was "applauded by Senator Obama" in an official statement.
CT: As far as content, is there an overarching theme throughout the essays?
JV: Well, people have all kinds of different stories, which is one of the remarkable things about this movement. He transcends traditional barriers. But the pervading theme is that the regular people, who have felt disillusioned with politics for so long, are suddenly engaged and interested and participating. Time Magazine recently said: "(Obama’s) campaign has become the first in decades — maybe in history — to be carried so far on the backs of the young." It’s true. And it’s snowballing. It’s getting bigger every day. He has over one million donors now. That’s unheard of. He’s shattering all kinds of records and will do so even more in the general election.
CT: This movement has been bolstered by online networking sites, especially Facebook. What kind of impact do you think that sites such as Facebook have on elections?
JV: Well, it’s allowed us to organize in ways that would have been impossible in previous elections. This book, in fact, wouldn’t have been possible if not for Facebook and my.barackobama.com
CT: The networking going on has seen many in the nation come together, actually caring about politics and the state of the nation. Can this be attributed to Obama, an apparent dislike of the current administration, or a combination of the two?
JV: I think it’s a combination. The youth movement has been building for several years now, even before Bush and the war. Most young people can only remember the scandals and excesses of the Clinton years and the corruption and incompetence of the Bush years. Obama comes in and offers something fresh and hopeful and he’s now riding a wave that’s been building for some time.
CT: What does an Obama nomination mean to a UVSC student?
JV: Well, it means they can get a $4,000 tax credit for school for doing some service. It means they will have affordable, universal health care. It means America will be respected around the world again and our troops will be coming home. It will change the entire tone of the nation. You really couldn’t get a more stark contrast between administrations.
CT: Where can we find The Obama Movement, and how much does it cost?
JV: It’s $12.95. It’s on Amazon.com and should be at the UVSC bookstore. My website is www.josephvogel.net and you can get it on there as well.
CT: is there anything else you’d like to say to your alma mater?
JV: Vote! Or I’ll bring Michael Moore back!
Vogel, who guest blogs for The Huffington Post and whose book Free Speech 101 was published in 2006, hopes that by giving young people a representative voice in print he is encouraging all of America to take seriously what its younger generations have to say, even beyond the outcome of next year’s elections. "This book is essentially a symbol of a movement," he said. "Barack Obama has inspired it, but it’s bigger than just him. It’s not his celebrity or his ‘rock-star’ status. It’s his ground-up message, his challenge for real citizens participating in a real democracy. It’s about transforming America."