Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Obama Has Betrayed the Youth Vote, and His Party Won't Soon Forget Our Revenge

Those of you who follow me on Facebook or listen to my webcast are aware that I have ranted for weeks about what a sorry excuse for a candidate Mitt Romney is. Despite Obama's unpopularity and having hardly anything to show for his first 3.5 years in office - he is likely to be re-elected due to this sheer lack of competition. But today, it's time to change gears and turn these same tables on Obama. I'm going to begin by reviewing Romney's disadvantages as a candidate to illustrate my point:

- He is Mormon - a religious group viewed with disproportionate mistrust and hostility by American voters on both the right and the left.

- His skeletons could fill the Old Jerusalem Cemetery - between Bain and the tax returns and the 2002 Olympics and "Romneycare" and his grandfather who allegedly had 6 wives. If Obama's birth-certificate is an issue, then so are all these vague but ugly accusations.

- He demonstrates a profound disconnect from reality - a man with an elevator for his cars who makes spontaneous $10,000 bets cannot possibly appear to understand the average American.

- Crucial fiscally and socially conservative voting blocs that have a lukewarm relationship with the GOP consider him a fake and will NOT vote for him.


Why? How did Obama get so unpopular since his landslide election in 2008?

It isn't the hogwash Fox News and conservative talk radio peddle about him being a Muslim/Marxist/Socialist/Kenyan. That crap may aggravate certain elements - particularly older voters; but anyone who takes it seriously was never a supporter to begin with.

Nor are his policies anything special. He inherited an unsustainable economic mess and continued the failed parade of Keynesian and interventionist shortsightedness that created it; and now he acts surprised this hasn't fixed the problem. While this certainly is nothing to be proud of, the same thing can be said about every President before him dating back to at LEAST Herbert Hoover. Why didn't every one of them experience the same drop in popularity?

The culprit, in my theory, is the evolution of voters. Even those of Obama's predecessors elected during shaky times and by landslides were all-in-all given an enthusiastic mandate to re-arrange the deck chairs on the Titanic. Ronald Reagan is perhaps the most prominent example. Obama, however, was put in office largely by young voters who genuinely wanted something different. The color of his skin - casting the shadow of first Catholic President JFK - was certainly a novelty factor, but far more important were the messages of "hope and change" interpreted by the youth as a promise of actual departure from the legacy of the previous 80 years. And in those terms, regardless of any tabulation of "kept promises" you can link me to on the internet, Obama has failed the youth vote completely. Let's have a look at how young voters today differ from the 20th century majorities, and why Obama can't hope to measure up in our books despite his rhetoric:

Foreign Policy

- Voters under 34 today don't remember the Cold War. But we have fresh in our minds 2 pointless and failed occupations; many of us served in the military and participated in these disasters. We have literally SEEN today's enemy sitting in a cave in the middle of the desert with improvised explosives, where aircraft carriers and ICBMs are not able to reach him, and our military presence on foreign soil only makes more accessible targets.

This makes us impossible to sell on the "need" for military bases in 100+ countries and a defense budget that exceeds the rest of the world combined. The young who voted for Obama wanted an END to the defense policy still aimed at the long-dead USSR, NOT a compromise with it. Obama half-assed this by sticking to Bush Jr's withdrawal plans from Iraq and Afghanistan, bombing Libya, meddling in Syria, and expanding the Pentagon's budget despite massive economic shortfalls.

Economics and Regulation

- Voters under 34 today don't remember segregation and the Civil Rights movement. The minorities among us have certainly experienced discrimination, and we are well aware it remains rampant. But we associate it with the cultural views of powerful people in both the private and public sectors, rather than with it being "allowed" and "unregulated".

- Voters under 34 today have a concept of poverty defined by dependence on hand-outs. Those among us who have experienced or witnessed lack of access to the necessities do not deny personal irresponsibility and bureaucratic inefficiency as contributing factors. In our lifetimes, public benefits have ALWAYS been available, but acquiring them still requires marginal responsibility and social aptitude, and the complex bureaucracies charged with doling them out are often a colossal barrier to their receipt.

These experiences make us impossible to sell on preserving the existing regulations and welfare state as "necessary lifelines" for the poor and underprivileged. We simply know better. Rampant discrimination despite "equal opportunity" posters hanging everywhere like wallpaper and epidemic economic disparity despite the alleged success of safety nets have led us to the accurate conclusion that the existing system cannot resolve these problems, and we will pelt with rotten eggs any politician that blames this failure on the economy being under-regulated or the safety-nets underfunded. Voters under 34 today divide evenly into those who want sweeping reforms to the systems in question to actually make them work, and those who want the systems repealed unconditionally as we are convinced they will always fail. Obama gave many in the reform camp the "hope" that he would do the former, and has failed miserably to deliver. The original, truly socialized version of Obamacare went down in flames at the hands of his OWN party, and all his hand-outs allegedly aimed at economic recovery have gone to the same old stakeholders our generation sees as having brought about the collapse - banks, the auto industry, mega-unions, renewable energy corporations, etc. This is NOT the 1960s and these elements do NOT represent "progress" - they are cogs in the corrupt system that we want taken off the government payroll. Seeing Obama betray the hopes of actual reform, the reformist young have grown more jaded and aligned themselves neatly with the more radical types - like myself - who have no faith in "fixing" government, and want it drastically reduced and downsized.

Culture and Civil Liberties

- Perhaps most importantly, voters under 34 today have an unprecedented individualism and a bitter resentment toward ideological authority. Raised by busy, working parents and largely left to our own devices without supervision, especially in the emerging world of the internet - my generation is used to figuring things out for ourselves rather than taking anyone's word for anything. The Baby Boomers may have "spent 20 years drugged out of their minds and fucking everything that walks" as George Carlin put it; but they still viewed those things as taboo - that's what made them attractive. To the modern young - drugs, sex, virtual reality, gambling, and a variety of other vices are just regular forms of recreation, and owning weapons to many of us is just a fact of life. We understand these things from an empirical perspective and we are fervently hostile to arguments in favor of prohibition or restriction because these fall back entirely on ideology and emotion. To our conservative grandparents who say these are "sinful and wrong" - we say we either do not view religion and tradition as authorities on morality, or present alternate interpretations that are no less valid than theirs. To our liberal parents who say these things will hurt us - we present an understanding of the need for caution and moderation, and can drill down every example of bad outcomes to carelessness and excess rather than the vice itself being the problem.

This makes us specifically intolerant of the expanding, encroaching police state. By the same "empiricism over emotions" model, we are thoroughly unconvinced by propaganda that crazed Islamic Jihadies wired with explosives are waiting around every corner to blow us up, or that we need anything more than a positive relationship with our own children and the firearm we carry to protect them from predators and child molesters. We are well aware, however, that the government overreach allegedly aimed at protecting us and them enables law enforcement to harass us for our drug habits, sex practices, poker games, illegally possessed weapons, and so forth. We don't excuse law enforcement as "just doing their jobs". We perceive them as agents of a system trying to regulate our personal choices that are none of its business regardless of majority disapproval. The young voted for Obama's "change" because they viewed it as an enema of government overreach into personal liberties, and he has failed the most completely in this domain. His embrace of gay rights has been a very small accomplishment when weighed against his perpetuation of the Patriot Act, further infringements through NDAA, and attempts to censor and control OUR internet through SOPA/PIPA/CISPA.

So, while Obama is "just another", he is President of an evolving electorate that loudly demands something significantly different and unapologetically calls anyone a liar that pretends to be different but isn't. If you think this will not destroy the Democratic Party, you are simply in denial. The young conspicuously stayed home in the 2010 midterms and let the Tea Party mop the floor with the Democrats despite many of the former's politicians being WAY too socially conservative for our liking. Many of Obama's older supporters arrogantly dismissed this as the Republicans "only winning because the young didn't turn out". This implies a baseless confidence that we will turn out for the Democrats in 2012, a confidence that is about to bite that party in the ass in ways they haven't experienced in 80 years. The youth fervor from 2008 hasn't died - it has mutated into a grassroots transformation of the Republican Party, which is ripe for this with an internal power and unity vacuum. This is pompously and conveniently misrepresented by the media as political inactivity by the young, but we are merely doing to the Republican Party what our parents did to the Democrats in the 1960-70s. We have discovered through the self-education method I mentioned above the relative irrelevance of voting, and have shifted our resources to grassroots organization. Ron Paul did not win the popular vote in a single Republican Primary, but he has secured the plurality of National Convention delegates in 7 States - tell me again how our strategy isn't working.

I have yet to encounter a reasonable Democratic Party defense against the rising libertarian element in the Republican Party, and after a few minutes of beating up on the Democrats' failed economic policies and their bending over for the neo-cons' imperialism and police state - the subject usually gets changed to the intolerant social conservative extremism of the Tea Party. The problem with this defense is that the young and libertarians are not on board with it, although we coalition with it unapologetically to barricade the Democrats from furthering the status quo. The social conservative element belongs to older voters who everyone should realize will not be around much longer. When they pass, the Republican Party will shed this short-lived neo-theocracy image and be inherited by the unapologetically anti-federalist youth I have been describing. And when the Democratic Party finds itself face-to-face with THAT and can no longer marginalize it for fraternizing with pro-life and anti-gay extremists, it will sink to a minority status it has not experienced since the late 19th century. Obama himself is likely to be helped by this re-alignment as the division within the Republican Party propels him to a second term; but he had the opportunity to attract this emerging youth vote to his party and keep it at the helm as the re-alignment from conservative Democrats to liberal Democrats did in the 1960s. Instead, he has alienated us and motivated us to go take over the other party - and that is how history will remember him, as the President who betrayed the youth vote, and whose party paid for it for decades to come.