Among the things we've learned from the back-to-back Democratic and Republican conventions over the past two weeks, plus the related news coverage and blogger comments, is how the two "youngsters" of the campaign, Democratic presidential nominee Barack Obama, 47, and GOP vice-presidential candidate Sarah Palin, 44, spent at least parts of their emerging-adulthood years.
According to the Wikipedia page on Obama:
A graduate of Columbia University and Harvard Law School, where he served as president of the Harvard Law Review, Obama worked as a community organizer and practiced as a civil rights attorney before serving in the Illinois Senate from 1997 to 2004.
Community involvement, as well as other types of volunteerism, are the kinds of things an emerging adult might do en route to solidifying one's identity and world views. But it was precisely Obama's community work that Palin ridiculed during her convention speech, in contrasting her own background with his:
"I guess a small-town mayor is sort of like a community organizer except that you have actual responsibilities."
In response, a participant at the left-leaning blog Daily Kos provided a pictorial tribute to community organizers throughout history.
One of the hallmarks of emerging adulthood is, of course, exploration amidst a sea of options. Palin, apparently, did more exploring than most as a college student, transferring between institutions five times.
Obama and Palin, each in their own ways, have made it to the political big leagues, though, and the rest is up to the voters.