Friday, October 26, 2012

To My Daughters and Their Peers (October 26, 2012)

The 18-29 demographic had a 14% higher turnout in 2008 than in 2004, and supported candidate Obama 66%-32%. Much has been written about their disillusionment and the impact that might have on turnout and allegiances in the coming election.  This is a guest post from Wendy, a call to action to younger voters.  
In 2008, most of you voted in your first presidential election.  Many of you campaigned for then-candidate Obama, knocking on doors and dialing phones.  That was a history-making, entertaining election that galvanized us all.  But most elections don’t feature a ground-breaking primary between the first credible woman and African American candidates.  Most elections, thank goodness, don’t engender the astonishment of having Sarah Palin on a national ticket.  Tina Fey was fun; in comparison, the 2012 election is serious and a bit wearisome. 
Plus you’re disillusioned.  Unemployment hit modern highs just as you entered the job market, student loans are unaffordable, and the rancor in Washington has grown louder and angrier over the past four years.
But more than ever, you need to vote.  It may feel as if your vote doesn’t matter, but if you give up your voice in this election, you will lose.
We often hear people talk about mortgaging our children’s futures with enormous debt.  No doubt whatsoever that the deficit must be addressed, but how we address it is critical. It’s important to remember that mortgaging your future comes in many guises: when we don’t provide college loans with reasonable terms, we mortgage your future; when we curtail funding for science, we mortgage your future; when we deny the existence of global warming and turn our backs on the development of green technologies, we mortgage your future. 
And here’s a balloon payment for you: Medicare doesn’t mean much to those of you who are decades away from your twilight years, but if the Ryan voucher plan becomes law, you better start saving for your future health insurance now – that is, right after you get out from under your crushing student loans.   
Sharp reductions in our social safety nets may save dollars in the short term, but they’re penny wise and pound foolish; when we don’t take care of our neediest citizens, we pay in the end with higher crime rates, with a less educated populace, and most importantly, with a bankrupt national soul.  
Then there’s the Affordable Health Care Act, already benefiting many of you.  Right now, you can obtain health insurance under your parents’ plans until age 26.  That’s not a God-given right, it’s a provision of Obamacare.  You’re young so health care may not seem like an important issue, but if you break your arm while skiing, suddenly that insurance will matter. 
And speaking of health care, watch out, because Romney has pledged to defund Planned Parenthood, a provider of vital services to millions of women: mammograms, STD testing, pap smears, prenatal counseling, and of course, contraception.
I’ve heard so many women say that they can’t believe that we’ve returned to a time when a woman’s right to make decisions about her own body is in question.  This next Supreme Court may review both the questions of abortion and gay marriage.  Do you want Obama or Romney appointing the justices who will make those decisions?  
And let’s not forget foreign policy.  Romney couldn’t even make a photo op trip to the Olympics without sticking his foot in his mouth.  A line from Tuesday’s New York Times sums it up quite nicely: “While international relations have often taken a back seat to the economy …, whoever wins in two weeks will inherit a world with increasingly complicated challenges, from the turmoil in the Middle East to a resurgent Russia to an emerging China …” I’ll take a little leading from behind if it means a unified allied front.  Your peers have died in Iraq and Afghanistan; others have returned home to a nation that won’t award the Purple Heart to those suffering from PTSD after multiple frontline tours in wars the country doesn’t believe in.
And those wars bring us pretty much back to where we started: mortgaging the future.  Because in large part, that debt we’re carrying came from those very ill-conceived wars.  
I know you aren’t as fired up with enthusiasm as you were in 2008. Neither am I.  But this is going to be a very close election.  Your vote matters.  Please join me in supporting President Obama on November 6.  Vote.


  1. It is mind-numbing to imagine just how different the world would be today if just 538 more people had exercised their right to vote in Florida in 2000. Please pass Wendy's piece on to as many people -- young and old -- as you can. Great piece, Wendy.

    1. I hope any Florida liberals who didn't show up to vote feel really bad about themselves.


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