In their quest to defeat President Obama and hold a White House Tea Party, Republicans and their corporate allies have a new youth outreach message: Don't Vote. While our troops fight and die for the rights of young Afghanis and Iraqis to vote and our leaders call for a freedom agenda across the Middle East, our Republican opponents seek to deny those rights to young Americans here at home.
The contrast is quite striking: in the Middle East, from Tunisia to Egypt to Lybia to Yemen, millennials are fighting for the right to have a stake in their own future. And while Republicans cheer them over there, they suppress millennial Americans here at home. From New Hampshire (where the GOP House Speaker says says you should not register to vote in your college community unless you or your parents lived there before matriculation) to Colorado, Maine, Montana, Nebraska, North Carolina, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin (where there are photo ID bills to ban students from using in-state university- or college-issued IDs for proof-of-residency when voting and/or end same-day voter registration at the polls) to the Koch-funded corporate entity American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) (which set up "model" legislation to disenfranchise young voters disenfranchise the radical right is organized, methodical, and determined to keep young people home.
The motives for tea party Republicans are obvious: young people propelled President Barack Obama to victory in 2008 with a 22% margin and supported Congressional Democrats in 2010 by a solid 17% http://www.civicyouth.org/youth-voters-in-the-2010-elections/ margin. Young people want investments in innovation, education, infrastructure, and renewable energy, support healthcare and union workers rights, and respect civil rights - while tea party Republicans don't. But rather than a fair debate on the merits, tea party Republicans and their corporate allies are going for a disqualification on the technicalities: ballot touching, government not university issued IDs, and taking the residence out of college residence halls. This power grab to keep college students and other young voters off the rolls would boost tea party Republican chances of winning the White House and of enacting draconian budget cuts and civil rights restrictions across the country.
Democrats take heart and Republicans take heed: these GOP voter suppression efforts will backfire. Even if some bills end up passing, young people will grow into older voters who forever remember which party wanted them to vote and which one didn't. Don't believe me? Look to the Rocky Mountain West, where GOP voter suppression ads like the despicable Latinos for Reform "Don't Vote" http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2010/10/19/latinos-for-reform-vote-nevada_n_767991.html backfired among Latino voters, who gave their votes -- and thus the Senate Majority -- to Democrats Harry Reid in Nevada, Barbara Boxer in California and Michael Bennet in Colorado.
GOP voter suppressors are counting on apathy -- but they have misjudged America's young people. Today, via keyboards, cell phones, office visits, and rallies, my colleagues in Young Democrats of America http://www.yda.org are working with our members across America to contact state legislators and urge them to protect the voting rights of young people. We need your help regardless of party. Democrats, join YDA in making sure that the voting rights for which our Founders sacrificed and our troops fight and die abroad extend to Americans here at home. Republicans, ask your 2012 Republican presidential candidates if they want college students voting for them in the New Hampshire Presidential Primary. Independents, check out Rock the Vote's Voter Suppression is Un-American public information campaign http://www.rockthevote.com/campaigns/suppression/ which is leading efforts to educate and mobilize voting rights groups.
Everyone can do their part to reject the GOP's Don't Vote message, stop the power grab, and force a debate on the merits. If millennials can risk their lives to fight for voting rights in the Middle East, we Americans can spare the time and energy to support them here at home.