We -- the Millennials -- were a large part of the reason President Barack Obama sailed into the White House. We were energized as we, too, looked forward to sailing into our young adulthood. He made us believe that we'd inherit the American Dream.
Instead, the white picket fence is farther away three years later, leaving many of us disenfranchised and wondering what we should do come November 2.
Vote? Stay at home? Re-elect Obama? Stand with Ron Paul? Write in Lady Gaga?
All of the above options -- except one -- should be on the table. We cannot sit at home on Election Day, because this could be the year of the youth vote as both sides need our support. But, this is only if we choose it.
To put our power into perspective, it is important to note that according to political analyst Michael Barone, Obama and Sen. John McCain would have been essentially tied if the 23.4 million 18- to 29-year-olds had stayed home in 2008.
It is true that past election results show that even when we are enthusiastic we typically do not have a high voter turnout. This apathy on Election Day -- when it really matters -- leads to neglect.
It should not come as a surprise to learn that this is what candidates are doing now. Their websites alone speak volumes.
Mitt Romney for President addresses all things typical, such as seniors and unions. Notice he even discusses Russia. But where is the mention of youth? Right, not so much.
"Where I Stand" by Rick Santorum does not fare any better. Yet again, there is no mention of 18- to 29-year-olds, but do not worry. He does manage to address pornography, which "is toxic to marriages and relationships." What is truly toxic is to have millions of youths unemployed or underemployed: Arab Spring: Case in point.
The president, who was essentially elected by Millennials, has a tab on his website that lists everyone under the sun, including "People of Faith," "Asian Americans & Pacific Islanders" and, lastly, "Young Americans." The "Young Americans" page does include an "Issues" section, but digging a little deeper reveals that there is little substance. He mentions he increased Pell Grant funding, specified that "kids" could stay on their parents' insurance until 26 years old, discusses the environment, and also mentions LGBT equality. But the most important issue -- youth employment -- is almost hidden at the bottom. This skimpy section fails to mention if his actions have actually led to job creation for the young. It just discusses what he plans to do in the future. More hoping. Not acting.
Obama, the master campaigner that he is, is likely to try to recreate the political magic he produced with youths in 2008, hoping it will help him win a second term. Proceed with caution, as his razzle-dazzle can make almost anyone swoon. Ask the clichéd questions: "Am I better off today than I was four years ago?" and "What has he actually done for me?" More importantly, get answers.
These same questions should be applied to all -- not just to Obama, Romney and Santorum. The candidates will only answer them if they hear them. So speak up. Know that our vote matters. Then, own it to create a better future. No one else is going to do it for us.
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