Volunteers, not stars, were heart of campaign

Hollywood celebrities usually get special treatment, but their first-class treatment at President Barack Obama’s inauguration was more than they earned.

Forget the glitz and glam of this year’s passing Golden Globes. Pay no attention to Hollywood’s forthcoming 81st Academy Awards. Even less prestigious events such as the MTV Movie Awards will have a smaller turnout compared to last week’s inauguration of President Barack Obama.

The 44th president of the United States took the oath of office last Tuesday, surrounded by an array of supporters who traveled to Washington, D.C., from all over the country, including Hollywood.

Among the A-listers in attendance were John Cusack, Samuel L. Jackson, Steven Spielberg, Anne Hathaway and Oprah Winfrey.

Despite the flashy, enjoyable performances by artists like Beyoncé and Stevie Wonder, Hollywood’s invasion of the East Coast slightly bothered me.

I understand that with the lifestyle of the rich and famous comes great perks, but I am irked at how these actors, talking heads and pop stars were given front row seats to the historical swearing in of our new president.

Yes, renowned figures such as Winfrey donated and raised millions of dollars for Obama’s campaign.

Yes, many of the actors campaigned for President Obama in the primaries and in the November election.
But what about all of the days and hours Temple students campaigned on Liacouras Walk and Berks Street? What about those who dealt with snide remarks spat at them by students annoyed by the voter registration volunteers?

When I think of the work they did last semester, I am furious because I feel they have been cheated.
There is no way these stars put in more time than the thousands (and quite possibly, millions) of college students who sacrificed sleep and sanity to register and motivate peers to vote for Obama.

Obama once said, “I stand before you tonight because all across America something is stirring. What the naysayers don’t understand is that this election has never been about me. It’s been about you.”

The “you” he is referring to is you and I: the students, staff and faculty of Temple, the citizens of Philadelphia and people all over the country. Regardless of whom you voted for, this was the most awe-inspiring election of our generation’s lifetime.

I hate to steal Hollywood’s thunder, but we won the right to those seats. Older generations have accused us for years of being apathetic about the world around us, and we finally decided that we do, in fact, care about our country and our future. The stars did not persuade us to wake up from our apathetic slumber; we woke ourselves up.

This is not to say that stars and figures such as Spielberg and Winfrey are not important; they are fellow Americans and should revel in this momentous occasion.

At the inauguration Obama said, “On this day, we gather because we have chosen hope over fear, unity of purpose over conflict and discord.”

We, famous and ordinary alike, came together and united under the common goal of moving our nation forward.

Joshua Fernandez can be reached at josh.fernandez@temple.edu.

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