When GOP frontrunner Mitt Romney addressed an audience at the University of Chicago last weekend, he struck a nerve with young voters when he said, "I don't see how a young American can vote for a Democrat." The problem with this statement is that it is becoming increasingly difficult to see how a young American could vote for a party that has repeatedly ignored opportunities to reach out to its youngest constituents. Instead of moving forward and fostering positive change, the GOP are trying to drag us back to the same failed policies of the past, full of temporary fixes and sound-bites designed to attract voters.
Which is why College Democrats across the country have joined together to speak out, proclaiming their support for progress and policies that will have a positive impact not only next week, but next year and in decades to come. The "I'm In" campaign allows students to reach out through social and traditional media -- by sharing views on Facebook and Twitter or through campus, local, and even national media outlets -- in a way that encourages positive conversations on both sides of the aisle. The end goal is dialogue that fosters a political system that focuses on public service, not partisan bickering.
The President's accomplishments on behalf of young people speak for themselves. President Obama pledged to make higher education a reality for millions of students across the country. By reforming student loan policies, the President has worked hard to ensure that Americans, no matter their economic background, have the ability to pursue a college degree. Meanwhile, Mitt Romney would end tax credits for higher education and he also supported a budget that would have slashed Pell Grants by nearly 25 percent.
During his 2008 campaign, President Obama pledged to bring the Iraq war to a responsible end. He kept his word, bringing our troops home safely and affirming his commitment and responsibility to support our service members and their families now that they are home.
Mitt Romney not only opposed a withdrawal from Iraq but has said that Presidents don't need to be foreign policy experts and that he'd have to consult his lawyers about how to make critical foreign policy decisions. Mitt Romney has demonstrated time and time again he lacks the foreign policy experience and vision needed to lead this country.
Under President Obama, Don't Ask Don't Tell was repealed, and men and women can now serve in the military without having to hide who they love.
But like most of Romney's stances on issues, he first supported gays and lesbians serving openly in the military but later opposed repeal of DADT. Unlike the President, who has made equality a staple in his administration, Mitt Romney is determined to take our country backwards.
Finally, the Affordable Care Act has truly been one of the most important pieces of legislation of our lifetimes, and we as young Democrats and young Americans have great cause to celebrate two years after its passage. Being a woman will no longer be a pre-existing condition, 2.5 million young people have health insurance, and ninety-five percent of Americans under the age of 65 will be insured all thanks to the ACA. The College Democrats of America are proud to have a President who recognizes the importance of a healthy, thriving citizenry who don't have to fear paying for their health care on top of dealing with the stress of a medical emergency.
Mitt Romney would reverse this progress, reinstating policies that allow discrimination on the basis of gender and preexisting conditions. He has promised to "get rid of" Planned Parenthood, and he endorsed the Blunt Amendment, which would have taken women's health decisions out of women's hands and give it to their bosses.
In 2012, we will face a choice of two dramatically different paths -- one that will continue to work toward fairness, equality and prosperity and the other that would bring us back to the same failed policies of the past. Mitt Romney can't see how a young person could vote for a Democrat, but it's becoming increasingly difficult to see how one couldn't. Are you in?
Follow Alejandra Salinas on Twitter: www.twitter.com/asalinas26