2. The Youngest 'Old Pol'
Stephen Yellin, 19
Talk to Stephen Yellin about his favorite subject--politics--and he sounds like a seasoned veteran of the political wars. And he is. Heck, he's been talking and writing about politics since he was 13.
A highly respected liberal blogger at Daily Kos, Yellin advises candidates on how to reach out to the Net community. At age 15 he was called "the Trippi of the future," a reference to Joe Trippi, who brought Democratic fund raising into the Internet age for Howard Dean's campaign. Yellin deflects the compliment, however. "I hope to one day be as good as Joe Trippi," he says.
Unlike most political bloggers, Yellin emerges from behind the keyboard and gets his hands dirty, too. He's currently a Democratic Committeeman for Union County, New Jersey, and he worked on several New Jersey State Senate campaigns last year.
At one time, Yellin thought he might run for office himself one day. But now that he's seen how the sausage is made, he's lost some of his appetite.
"Candidates are on the phone 8 hours a day, five days a week, asking for money," he says. "You end up running around talking to people you don't know and making deals with people you don't like. I'm not saying to be a candidate you have to sell your soul, but I think you have to compromise what you truly believe in."
Yellin's new goal: To teach history at the college level.
"I'd like to believe in a world full of good people working together to build a better society," he says. "The best defense against tyranny is to have a strong democratic society where people take their responsibility seriously."