Barack abandons the young: The President’s policies hurt the generation that put him in office

BY JAMES KIRCHICK
NY Daily News
Sunday, November 29th 2009

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The 2008 presidential race was widely trumpeted as the “Youth Election,” and for good reason. Inspired by Barack Obama’s relative youth and his message of “hope” and “change,” young Americans flocked to the then-junior senator from Illinois.

It is doubtful that he could have become the most powerful man in the world without them.

What did the young get for their critical outpouring of support? Though most of his youthful backers would be hesitant to admit it, the President has betrayed them on three issues of great importance to their wallets and sympathies: health care reform, the federal budget and gay rights.

As the first year of Obama’s administration draws to a close, the gap between promise and policy is astonishing, and all the more so considering how critical the young were for his victory. Early primary wins in Iowa and South Carolina owed much to his massive support from voters under 30; in the former state he carried them by a 5-to-1 margin.

That carried over into the general election; the cool, forward-thinking and culturally savvy Obama connected; the rickety John McCain did not.

About 55% of Americans under 30 voted last November, just one percentage point shy of that constituency’s all-time turnout high in 1972, and they favored Obama 2-to-1. Despite the perennial talk about the electoral significance of senior citizens – who can always be relied upon to turn up at the polls on Election Day – “Generation Obama” actually comprised a larger portion of the electorate (18%) than did voters over 65 (16%).

But judging by Obama’s signature domestic policy goal – his massive expansion of government-subsidized health care to the presently uninsured – you wouldn’t suspect that young Americans were such a vital constituency.

Read the rest of the article at the Daily News.

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