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Occupy the Polls: Growing Malaise Around The Country Needs To Be Directed At Washington, Not Wall Street

by Nathan Gower, staff writer

The four day Democratic National Convention is set to convene in Charlotte, North Carolina during the week of September 3, 2012.

There, President Obama is likely to deliver his most urgent and appealing address to his core constituents, while trying simultaneously to lure more voters to his cause.

One group President Obama is likely to turn to is young people.

It was clear in the 2008 election how significant young people, primarily college students, were in electing our current president. Exit polls saw sixty six percent of persons aged 18-29 vote to elect President Obama.

But that fervor is unlikely to repeat itself in 2012. As evident in a recent New York Times article, young people are showing a growing lack of enthusiasm with President Obama. Where once students organized in large numbers, they now sit disgruntled in their dorm rooms, pondering whether or not to organize again in 2012.

A recurring cause of concern for those interviewed was reforming the cost of college, while simultaneously ensuring there are enough jobs on the market for the annual outpouring of new graduates.

It’s not particularly challenging to see why students are so worried. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics reveals nearly half of Americans aged 18-24 are unemployed while the national rate of unemployment stagnates around 13.4%, with no noticeable signs of improvement.

Only 51% of Americans aged 18-34 approve of Mr. Obama’s presidency thus far, according to a CNN/ORC International telephone poll conducted earlier this month. That same poll revealed, in that same age bracket, only 34% approved of the President’s handling of the economy, while 40% are satisfied with his handling of health care policy.

The President’s overall approval rating is in the mid-40s, where it has remained for nearly all of 2011. To put that figure in historical perspective, only twice has an incumbent president with this low of a rating been reelected.

Though Obama is by no means saintly, he is not responsible for the entirety of this malaise sweeping the nation. Criticisms should also be directed towards Congress.

This week, Congress approved a security fund of $50 million to be used specifically for the 2012 Democratic National Convention.

To put that figure in perspective, AB Tech’s recently contested and barely approved sales tax increase in Buncombe County is expected to raise $129 million over two decades. That’s $50 million for a four day party against $129 million for twenty years of education and job training.

Congress passed this $50 million security allocation in the same week a bipartisan ‘super committee’ is expected to negotiate $1.2 trillion in savings.

Should the committee fail to negotiate a deal, repercussions will be felt on both sides, but the most severely affected party will be neither an elected Democrat or Republican, but simply the American taxpayer.

This age bracket of young people has shown clear signs of discomfort outside the national political scene, with international movements toppling dictatorial governments, while domestically, we see movements like Occupy, largely comprised of youth, fighting back.

But why are we so opposed to organizing within the political process? In Buncombe County, Young Democrats meetings are attended by only a few dozen people at most, while Young Republicans struggle to reestablish their ranks after an lengthy absence of any organizational structure.

Comments, suggestions, and general feedback are encouraged to be sent to the author at ngower@warren-wilson.edu

It is evident that the nation’s economy and job situation continues to worsen. Politicians point fingers at each other without accepting responsibility. Neither side is willing to do so, and therefore it is our goal, as young people with far more time on this world than our elected leaders, to ensure someone takes the blame.

We want jobs; let’s demand it. We want debt relief; let’s demand it. We want out of the war; let’s demand it. We have a voice and it’s time to let Washington, not Wall Street, hear it.


One Response to “Occupy the Polls: Growing Malaise Around The Country Needs To Be Directed At Washington, Not Wall Street”

  1. NO

    Posted by Gilles D. | November 18, 2011, 4:56 pm

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