Many virtual trees have fallen in examining Gen Y’s involvement in Campaign 2012. Seen as an excited, game-changing voting bloc in 2008 for Barack Obama, much has changed during the job-challenged recovery of the past few years.
Our resident Gen Y “He Said; She Said” team — Jordan Stivers and Zac Byer (who also happen to be dating) weighs in. Click here to read Zac’s piece. And Gen Y’s unofficial Hollywood spokeswoman, actor, writer and director Lena Dunham, weighs in here.
In 2008, I was a junior at the University of Kentucky and it was my first time voting in a presidential election. I found it so exciting that my first ballot ever cast was for Barack Obama, a candidate so different from any I had ever seen or heard about, not only in terms of race or background, but in what he stood for – equality, opportunity, and working together. As I walked around my fairly conservative campus the day after the election, wearing my Obama 08’ shirt and getting dirty looks from other students, I felt so proud that our country had come together and decided to go in a new direction.
I admit that a lot has changed since 2008, not only in my life, but in the country and in President Obama’s White House as well. I’ve graduated from college, worked for two years, and started law school. I’ve become an adult and realized that the state of the economy affects me and that it is vitally important for our national wellbeing. The country has come down from the high it was on after the 2008 election, and because of the difficult recovery from the even more difficult financial situation Obama inherited, many have become disillusioned with the President. But I don’t think this is a result of failed leadership of the President, but a result of our having impossibly high expectations of Obama, and a lack of understanding of the depth of the problems he has had to solve.
I’ve been hearing a lot of Republicans, and Mitt Romney himself, talking smugly about how young people are not as excited about Obama this time around, as if they’re saying, “I told you so, now you know better than to have any optimism about government and the good things it can achieve.” This is so cynical. The mood is different this time, but that’s natural. The President has had the hard job of actually governing for the past four years, and some of the sexiness has worn off. But this doesn’t mean that young people do not believe that President Obama is still the candidate with our best interests in mind. Because of the President’s policies, I’ve been able to stay on my parents’ health insurance through my transition from school to work, then back to law school. He’s supported many of my friends and colleagues who are gay by declaring that they should have the same rights as everyone else. He has kept student loan rates down so that we can pursue higher education. He’s allowed those of us who have grown up in the U.S. but are still not considered citizens to make it official. And let’s not forget how strongly he has represented the U.S. in foreign policy by killing Osama Bin Laden.
As for the economy, which I, along with many others, believe is the most important issue in this election, I still believe that Obama’s plan is the right one for us. Mitt Romney does have business experience, but should the President really govern the United States like a CEO would run a corporation? I don’t think so. A corporation’s sole purpose is to make money. In government, a lot more is at stake than whether money is made or lost – it’s people’s lives and their need for protection that is at stake. This would take a backseat in a Romney administration. I applaud Romney for his success, but I don’t trust him as commander in chief. There’s a lot more to being president than knowing how to make a lot of money. Colin Powell, a Republican and former Secretary of State under President George W. Bush, endorsed President Obama last week because he has led us out of a very difficult recession to a place where the economy is rebuilding itself. Why would we change course now? Mitt Romney hasn’t given us specifics for what he would do, because he would do the same thing George W. Bush did, which is what created the mess we’re still digging out of. Just because Romney is spinning it to sound like something shiny and new doesn’t mean it really is. We should not be so gullible to believe his vague rhetoric. We are understandably impatient for the economy to be fully thriving again, and Mitt Romney is feeding off of that impatience to try to convince us to make a change just for the sake of making a change. But I believe making a change when we don’t even know what Romney would actually do, since he’s flipped flopped so many times, is not a wise decision.
Finally, as a young woman, the ability to make my own choices regarding my body is extremely important to me. During the primary season, Mitt Romney made statements that he would shut down Planned Parenthood, which provides vital services such as contraception and cancer screenings for women, and that he opposes abortion. In my book this puts him in the same category as two Republican senators who have made statements about rape and women’s reproductive health that show both their ignorance of science and their total disregard for a woman’s freedom to choose what happens within her own body. Whatever their religious views are about abortion, they have no right to force them on other people. It’s perplexing that Republicans don’t want the government to regulate their bank accounts, but are eager for it to regulate what happens in your bedroom.