A new survey shows that young Americans – between the ages of 18 and 24 – are disillusioned and few plan to vote in November. You might think they’re dumb, acting against their own interests, and you would be right. But I can understand their frustration.
They voted in 2008 (for Barack Obama of course). They voted in 2012 (for Obama again), And what did it get them?
They probably aren’t that thrilled with the Affordable Care Act. At their age, the last thing on my mind was health insurance, and I would have resented being forced to buy it. What I wanted most was a car – and a job to pay for it.
Today’s young Americans are finding it a lot harder than their parents to own a car. They’re paying more for college, and part-time jobs are hard to find. The jobs students used to get – in fast food joints, for example – are being gobbled up by displaced older workers in a crummy economy.
And those who decide to skip college and go straight into the workforce? Forget it.
Unemployment for 18 to 29 year olds is 15.8 percent, more than double the general rate. And the situation is even more dire for minorities. Among young African-Americans the figure is 23.8 percent. For Hispanics it is 16.6 percent.
And things are even worse for kids who didn’t graduate from high school – a third of those job seekers are out of luck.
So it looks as if this sector of the Democratic base won’t be turning out as usual for the midterm elections.
I know you’re saying President Obama is not to blame. You’re saying the Republicans in Congress have blocked every job-creation initiative he has introduced and persistently thwarted his efforts to help students. You’re saying that never before has a well-meaning president faced such implacable opposition.
And you’re right again. But so what?
The bottom line is that President Obama promised hope and change, and – for whatever reason – he has not been able to keep his promise. Not to the young job seekers, anyway – and especially not to the young minority job seekers.
Sadly, it looks as if his party is going to pay the price come November. And Americans will suffer bitterly for the next two years.
But there could be a silver lining.
There’s a saying that the darkest hour is before the dawn. And the next two years could be America’s “darkest hour.”
Judging from the extremism displayed in Republican controlled state legislatures and the right-wing rhetoric of Republican candidates, Republican control of Congress would result in the most savage assault on human rights in the nation’s history. Women and minorities would be under attack. The social safety net would be shredded and welfare budgets gutted. The warmongers would be in the ascendancy and US troops might once again be in harm’s way in some crazy foreign war – or wars.
Those two years of Republican rule would surely teach America a bitter lesson.
By 2016, voters would be clamoring for hope and change once again.
They would be ready for Hillary.