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Rhetoric plays key role in ‘firing up’ support in election

“Change we can believe in,” “Yes we can,” “The Original Maverick,” “Country First” and “Hope and change” were all regularly heard phrases four years ago during the 2008 presidential elections.

The “Ready to Go” Rally on Saturday in the Schottenstein Center was no exception to the common, possibly overuse of campaign slogans.

President Barack Obama kicked-off his campaign trail for his second term as president at Ohio State when he spoke to a crowd of about 14,000 at the Schottenstein Center. A big part of his speech, promotional videos and first lady Michelle Obama’s speech was based on the phrase, “fired up, ready to go.”

“It sounds like you all are already fired up and ready to go,” Michelle Obama said at the beginning of her speech. “I’m feeling pretty fired up and ready to go myself.”

Former Gov. Mitt Romney, likely the Republican presidential nominee, has campaign slogans such as “Believe in America,” or “Smaller, Smarter, Simpler Government.”

While these slogans might get voters’ attention, some are questioning where the substance is in the phrases.

Michael Holt, a second-year in English, said despite the catch phrases, the election is about policy. Holt said Barack Obama needs four more years to fully put his plan in place.

“(Barack) Obama didn’t really get a fair chance in four years,” Holt said. “He came into a situation that you can’t repair in four years. It’s more difficult than that and it’s more complex than that.”

At the rally, Barack Obama echoed Holt’s thoughts. He said they are not done, and he asked for support to continue to make the country a better place.

“We are still fired up. We are still ready to go. And we are going to remind the world once more just why it is that the United States of America is the greatest nation on Earth,” Barack Obama said.

Brock Flint, a fourth-year in international studies, said four years is not enough time to change an entire nation.

“I feel that he’s worked towards a lot of things that he wanted to change and that he promised, and he should be given a chance to complete what he started,” Flint said.

College students had a significant impact on the outcome of the presidential elections in 2008. About 22 million voters from the 18-to-29 demographic took to the polls, making it one of the highest turnouts of younger generation voters in American history, according to a Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement poll. Flint said part of the excitement had to do with the political rhetoric.

“In 2008, I preferred President Obama over (Republican nominee John) McCain as president because I thought he would be a good departure from the (former President George W.) Bush years,” Flint said. “He was more energetic, he was very personable and you could connect with him on a personal level. I think there was a younger voter turnout because of Barack Obama’s campaign and his ability to motivate people to vote.”

College students weren’t the only ones who became politically passionate in 2008. Celebrities became increasingly involved in the Barack Obama campaign. YouTube videos titled “Yes We Can” and “We are the Ones” by hip-hop artist Will.i.am are two examples of videos featuring celebrities supporting Barack Obama. A song titled “My President is Black” by rapper Young Jeezy was released in September 2008, two months before Barack Obama was elected.

Despite the slogans and chants at the rally Saturday, some students said the luster of voting and optimism about the election has faded in the last four years.

“(Barack) Obama back then was like the Ron Paul of now, he gave hope for change in the largely flawed system,” said Omar Gowayed, a second-year in science and engineering. “In 2008, there was optimism, there was this happiness to vote. But now, there isn’t really a joy to vote.”

While Barack Obama’s “Hope and change” ended up prevailing over McCain’s “Original Maverick” platform, many students said the election is not decided and it will not come down to meaningless rhetoric.

Many students said frustrations over the economy and unemployment rates continue to be a concern.

Issues including school loans, the economy and the job market have left some students struggling to pay for college, and some wonder if it’s even worth it. Many are unable to find jobs, and paying off student debt is a big concern, said Adrianne Smith, a second-year in exploration.

“I think (the Obama administration) have promised a lot of things and then they haven’t completed it yet,” Smith said. “Hopefully they’ll get another chance.”

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