Forall Instagram Obama: How Jessica Alba Transcends Identity Politics for Millennials

This week, the Obama campaign answered questions of great importance to all millennials: What does Jessica Alba think about civic engagement? Does Scarlett Johannson support clean energy? And finally, what is Zach Braff's stance on marriage equality?

Harnessing the power of Instagram and recruiting a coterie of progressive celebrities, the Obama campaign launched its #forall initiative to galvanize young voters. Through the campaign, Jessica Alba sent a e-mail out on Wednesday to millennials. She urged voters to share an image on Facebook of various celebrities putting their hands over their heart, as if for the pledge of allegiance. In marker, each celebrity wrote the issue that is important to them. The Obama campaign invites young voters to do the same and share the picture on Instagram.

In using celebrities throughout his campaign, the Obama campaign is forging a new path for the Democratic Party that eschews identity politics in favor of  an amorphous unity. Many Democratic politicians have tried to do this in the past. The difference is that Obama may actually succeed.

By using celebrities who appeal to many millennials, regardless of their specific priorities, the president aims to promote engagement. We're certainly not the greatest generation, but we are the generation with the greatest diversity.

In fact, cultural critic Touré argues that we live in a post-civil rights America. Collectively, as Americans, we don't. But millennials do. The issues that divide our parents don't divide us.

While millennials may differ politically and culturally, we share more similarities than differences. We are the generation of memes and Harry Potter and cute cat videos. We support marriage equality and internet neutrality. We stream Netflix and play childish sports. (Kickball, anyone?) We care less about buying houses and more about buying coffee. Parody is our highest art form.

The new #forall campaign may seem to reflect the president's attempt to reach out to young voters with celebrities, but the initiative appeals to the cynicism and idealism of our generation. In avoiding partisanship and promoting celebrities, the president brings voters together.  

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Jillian McLaughlin

As a current student at Harvard's Kennedy School of Government, I study public policy, take advantage of student discounts, and spend way too much time playing Settlers of Catan.

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