12/12/2008 05:12 am ET Updated May 25, 2011

The Kids Are Alright

I came face to face with the future this past week and I am as positive as at any point in my lifetime about it. If you have not been on a college campus lately, and if you don't truly believe that what has been missing from our politics and political debate has been an energy and enthusiasm for hopefulness and creativity, and if you still don't accept the idea that change and the need for it is more than an empty slogan, then do yourself a favor and connect with today's youth.

I had the distinct honor to travel to Statesboro, Georgia following last week's election to talk with students at my alma mater about politics and policies. Although I have addressed dozens of students on college campuses over the past twenty years of so, the level of engagement I witnessed this past week far surpasses any I have discerned since I was a college student in the early 1970's. And post-election analyses validate that the phenomena is widespread and among our youth today.

To whatever or whomever you may attribute this surge of interest, it is critically important that our governmental institutions and leaders honor the trust that our youth has placed upon them by delivering sound, effective, and forward-looking programs and policies that will address the problems that threaten our present and our future. It is our solemn responsibility to preserve and perpetuate their involvement.

Many of us have decried the pervasive cynicism that has captured the public's attention for far too long. Some, me included, have despaired of the lack of involvement and interest on the part of the electorate that has given rise to the hijacking of our processes and institutions by special interests.

Even amongst those who have remained involved in government for the purest of reasons the line between public and special interest has blurred. Hence, you find
competition between various levels of government (i.e. Federal, State, local) over scarcer and scarcer financial resources, rather than a truly intergovernmental partnership designed to maximize the public interest for all citizens.

The grass roots nature of the Obama campaign has been wildly successful. It has surpassed the expectations of the most experienced political practitioners. It has connected on a level that has meaning and importance to most Americans, the local level. It is therefore critical that this connection not be severed or disrupted by drawing artificial distinctions between levels of government. We must ensure a seamless flow of functions and duties, a working partnership between Federal, State, and local governments, a level of cooperation that enhances equity and efficiency that encourages our youth to remain engaged and involved and willing to offer resolutions rather than reticence.

And already, we must lay the foundation for the next generation of youth, so we can continue to capitalize on their energy, innovation, and creativity for the future. The kids are alright.

Read more reaction from HuffPost bloggers to Barack Obama's victory in the 2008 presidential election