President Barack Obama definitely cares about college students. Obama was recently the star of a BuzzFeed video “Things Everybody Does But Doesn’t Talk About, Featuring President Obama.” Like anything else on BuzzFeed, the clip is clickbait. The video’s content is very much in-step with the vast majority of the site’s content, except for a key distinction.
What sets the president’s piece apart from the rest of video is that the clip does not fit the traditional, delightful meaninglessness often featured in articles such as “The Definitive Rankings of Hipster Baby Names” or “33 Essential Free Fonts You Need to Download.”
Instead, Obama appeared on BuzzFeed to promote signing up for healthcare under the Affordable Care Act. He does so in a roughly 30-second scene where he struggles to pronounce “February” while toying with a selfie stick. Within that half minute, Obama encouraged viewers to sign up for healthcare at healthcare.gov by Sunday Feb. 15.
Obama has received broad criticism since the video aired. The strongest criticism is that he is debasing the esteem of the American presidency.
The recent BuzzFeed appearance, however, is not the first time Obama has faced condemnation for his methods of promoting healthcare enrollment.
Obama has also appeared on comedian Zach Galifianakis’ web series “Between Two Ferns” and “The Colbert Report” in order to publicize healthcare.gov within the last year.
Even a strong supporter of Obama would have difficulty arguing that these media features have not been the least bit obscure, inane or even somewhat unbecoming of a president. The reality is that Obama’s seemingly foolish media campaigns are not for his supporters. The campaigns, rather, are for those who could care less about what the president does; those who would much rather watch Netflix than read Reuters. They are for many of us college-aged students.
BuzzFeed’s cloud of soft-focus content is a media behemoth that has swallowed the majority of young American digital-periodical readers at more than 69 million unique users as of last July.
Obama’s appeal to these 69 million Americans––which college students are a significant part of––is powerful evidence of his legitimate concern for people our age. The president sincerely cares that young adults obtain healthcare coverage.
While healthcare enrollment had a very direct effect on the President’s success in past elections, this is no longer the case. During this year’s State of the Union Address, Obama said he has “no more campaigns to run.” While there exists the argument that Obama made a fool of himself on BuzzFeed for the sole purpose of bolstering his presidential legacy, this logic doesn’t make much sense. What these strange appeals really signify is the President’s genuine concern for young Americans.
With FOX News and Hillary Clinton counting every second, Obama will leave the White House in slightly more than 22 months. As Obama’s departure approaches, opinion poll questions regarding his presidential image will transform into questions about his personal image. Some questions will most certainly ask citizens if they feel Obama cares about them. As a college student, I will be answering those pollsters affirmatively.