In 2009, everyone knew that UNC was going to win the national championship title or at least make it to the final four. Why? Because UNC had Tyler Hansbrough, Ty Lawson, Wayne Ellington, and Danny Green; a powerhouse team with a 34-4 record and consistently ranked in the top five throughout the 2008-09 season.
Although we now have a powerhouse team with Tyler Zeller, John Henson, Harrison Barnes, Kendall Marshall, and Stilman White, there just hasn't been that spark the 2009 team had. UNC's record is 32-6. Considering that we lost to Florida State twice, Kentucky, and UNLV (of all places), it was pretty obvious to me that we would not make it to the championship. I did think that the Tar Heels would make it to the final four, but enduring multiple injuries doesn't help matters.
I'm not devoting this blog to argue the case for my bracket. Notice from the title that it's the "politics of bracketology" that I'm discussing.
Barack Obama filled out his bracket like he typically does. Despite the fact that we have massive unemployment, a declining economy, a war, and millions on food stamps, Obama manages to find time to fill out a stupid bracket as if Americans really care who he's going to pick. Or so I thought.
While sitting in my state and local government lecture, I overheard a group of girls discussing Obama's bracket. There's no question that UNC students adore Obama like a fat kid adores cake. Despite youth unemployment hovering around 16% and the student loans they will have to payoff after graduating, students at UNC still think Obama's the best thing since the pill. One of the girls said to the others that since Obama picked UNC to win the tournament, it must mean that "he really loves us."
Give me a break. If the girl looked at Obama's bracket, she'll see that politics has everything to do with his picks. Obama's final four teams are UNC, Ohio State, Missouri, and Kentucky. With the exception of Kentucky (which he probably picked just because they're ranked number one in the nation), all the college teams that he picked are located in swing states for the 2012 Election!
There's no doubt that Ohio has consistently been a swing state in modern presidential elections. Unlike a lot of states where determining which party it's going to support in the election is easy, Ohio changes party allegiances every election cycle. In 2008, Democrat; in 2004, Republican; in 2000, Republican; in 1996, Democrat. Ohio suffers from ADD when it comes to selecting the president. Whichever candidate wins Ohio traditionally wins the election. With 20 Electoral College votes up for grabs there, it's no wonder Obama wants the state like a little girl wants a pony.
Missouri is mildly important to the Obama campaign. Obama barely lost the state in 2008 to John McCain. In fact, he lost Missouri by only 3,632 votes. Obama eyes Missouri like a kleptomaniac eyes a jewelry store. And with 11 Electoral College votes there, it's no slim pickings.
Now on to the big one; my beloved home state, North Carolina. The Tar Heel state had been dark red since the first election of Ronald Reagan in 1980. But then 2008 came along. Obama won North Carolina by only 14,000 votes. Where did his support come from? I'll argue that it was from two groups: African Americans and college students.
African Americans in the state came out in droves, many registering to vote for the fist time in their lives, hoping to elect the first black president. For most voters, his platform didn't matter, all that mattered was his physical qualities and the promise of fulfilling Dr. King's dream of a colorblind society.
95% of African Americans voted for Obama. How truly colorblind is our society when candidates are elected based solely off his/her skin color? This question is an entirely different topic altogether, but consider what Paul Waldman wrote in leftist American Prospect in 2008:
"If Obama were to become president, the symbolic value of him taking the oath of office - a multi-racial man who was partly raised overseas in a Muslim country - would provide such an extraordinary contrast with his predecessor, the very embodiment of what many see as the worst of America in all his ignorance, arrogance, and parochialism, that it would instantly suck the life out of a good portion of the anti-Americanism that has presented such an obstacle in recent years."
In order to win North Carolina again, Obama will have to appeal to his loyal 2008 supporters again. But why would they care this go around? They already elected the first black president. They did what they wanted to do. This is Obama's biggest worry. Obama losing the black vote in North Carolina is as scary as John Edwards getting a gray hair.
North Carolina college students are Obama's next biggest supporters. Without them and their hard slave work (I mean volunteer campaign work), he probably would have lost the state to McCain. There's no doubt that college students love Obama as much as a teenage girl loves Twilight. One student proclaimed in her local newspaper after Obama won the 2008 Election:
"It's probably the most excited I've ever been in my entire life. I seriously think I had an emotional seizure or something. My whole body seized up. I couldn't breathe. It's like I really mattered...I picked the president! That was me!...I think I'm in love with America right now!"
On Election Night, college students stormed their quads to celebrate. I remember a high school friend calling me to rub the election results in my face. While she was completely wasted and running around like a moron on her college campus, I was sitting in bed restless, worrying about the future of our country.
So what does Obama have to do to win North Carolina in 2012? Easy. He has to win over college students again. He has to establish his base of slaves to go door-to-door, make phone calls, and drive impoverished voters to the polls.
And how will he do that? The same way he always has. Act cool and hip. Promise students a bunch of government programs that are supposed to save their lives. Promise them free health care, free college, and free contraception. Play basketball with their favorite college team (like he did in 2008). Or maybe Obama can pick the North Carolina university that gave him his biggest base of support and say that their basketball team is his favorite to win the NCAA tournament so that those students can then proclaim that he "must really like us." GENIUS!
To conclude, my bracket isn't the typical bracket of a UNC student. I had enough basketball sense to realize that UNC was unfortunately not going to make it to the championship (this year), which they didn't (thanks Kansas). On the other hand, Obama's bracket is totally political. His bracket is set to prove that he's a common man that you'd want to have a beer with; all in an attempt to win your vote in 2012. More importantly, it's an attempt to win some college students back to his side; to continue working for him like little unpaid slaves.
I applaud Mitt Romney, Rick Santorum, Newt Gingrich, and Ron Paul for not making brackets and publicizing them to the entire world. They have more important things to do, like trying to save our country from total destruction. Obama on the other hand, has the time to fill out pointless basketball brackets instead of doing his job.
Don't believe these gimmicks.