President Barack Obama is failing millennials economically.
According to Pew, most millennials are in agreement with that, as only 40% of 18- to 29-year-olds approve of Obama’s economic performance. Yet 60% of that age group still broke for Obama in 2012 (which was actually down from 66% in 2008).
Through independent research, I’ve come to the conclusion that it’s because at least six out of 10 millennials are civil liberties-driven first and foremost. They put same sex marriage, abortion rights, marijuana legalization and all other civil liberties ahead of their careers, safety nets and financial future.
It’s understandable. What a single college student whose parents are still covering living expenses may worry about is a whole lot different from what a working parent of two kids with a mortgage to pay and food/health care/education to provide for worries about. Your priorities change as you get older. It’s the oldest story in politics.
What I don’t understand is what President Obama has done to change anything on the civil liberties front. Marijuana is still an illegal narcotic on the federal level last time I checked. When you weed through the media-generated hype over Obama’s “historic” gay marriage endorsement (something he was originally for in 1996, then against in 2008, then for again in 2012), he simply reaffirmed that it should be left up to the states. How is that not already the status quo?
Indeed, he’s made a career of simply making it look like he “said something” without really saying anything. Of course, it takes a complicit, enthusiastic media to help him do it too.
But on civil liberties, I can’t think of anything he’s done but give more handouts and increase key voting demographics’ dependency on big government. He offered millennials staying on their parents’ health care coverage till 26 in lieu of jobs that would enable them to buy their own health care. He subsidized birth control for women who can easily afford it. All he’s done for minorities is offer more the same things the Democratic Party has been offering for the last 50 years: food stamps, Medicaid, and Section 8 housing with the added bonus of “Obama phones.”
Wow, great champion of civil liberties.
On the economic front, it’s only been worse for millennials. The Obama administration’s aggressive regulatory policies, bigger and higher tax code, and health care policy that burdens the private sector with more expensive and multiplied costs has shot the real youth unemployment rate to a staggering 22.9%.
Baby boomers are also putting off retirement longer for a variety of reasons. The problem is this weak job market is not producing nearly enough jobs to compensate for the new crop entering the workforce, so job opportunities are scarce and highly competitive. In addition to education, experience is a highly valuable qualification as well, and most boomers will naturally hold that advantage over millennials.
As a result, older workers have seen a net gain of 4 million jobs since the recession while younger workers have experienced a net loss of 2.8 million over that same time period.
Without that valuable experience, millennials are getting left behind and many of them are forced to make up the lost time by going back to school (including yours truly) and racking up more student loan debt in the hopes that higher education will eventually pay dividends on the return on investment. That, in turn, is only making the job market even more competitive for future job seekers in a sea of JDs, PhDs, MBAs and many other graduate degrees. Indeed, this looks to remain an employer’s market as long as economic growth stays weak under the Obama administration’s policies.
On top of that, this administration has also done nothing to reform entitlements and extend their longevity so that my generation can even hope to have safety nets when we’re eligible for them. According to the trustees who oversee Social Security and Medicare, the trust funds that support Social Security will run dry by 2033. Medicare’s hospital insurance fund is projected to run out of money by 2024. The Democratic Party seems more interested in protecting every penny of benefits for baby boomers and leaving millennials with the short end of the Ponzi scheme stick while millennials just seem to be accepting the fact that these safety nets will be bankrupt and long gone instead of doing anything to stop it from happening.
That’s not hope and optimism. That's accepting lowered expectations and settling for mediocrity.
Now this is where the Republican Party is changing course.
It’s easy being a naysayer. Turn on Fox News or talk radio and you’ll find a bunch of angry people talking about how much this sucks all day long. But that’s not what draws a majority of Americans – particularly millennials. Negativity is ugly and unattractive. Young people want a bright future and want to believe or at least hope that tomorrow will be better than today. Reagan had “Morning in America again.” Clinton had “I feel your pain.” Bush had “Compassionate conservatism.” Obama had “Yes we can.” These were messages rooted in positivity, optimism and vision.
All four presidents were two-term presidents. I think it’s because when one party is in the White House, the other party usually falls into the trap of focusing on how much the other party’s solutions suck rather than focusing on what their party could do better. That’s not to say Romney-Ryan didn’t have solutions – they had plenty to offer on job creation, entitlement reform and health care. The media didn't give that much attention because I guess solutions just aren’t as “sexy.”
But Republicans are moving forward with a new campaign that focuses on solutions, optimism and vision. It’s private sector growth that leads to economic recovery. It’s enforcing equal opportunity – not redistributing wealth to enforce equal results – that leads to earned success and greater happiness. It’s upward mobility. It’s shooting for the stars.
Economic freedom and civil liberties go hand in hand. You can’t have one without the other.