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Jim Gonzalez Headshot

Democrats Should Heed Churchill's Maxim and 'Deserve Victory!'

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As the White House and Democratic congressional campaign committees gear up for their respective drives to win back the House, and to maintain the majority in the Senate, they will need more relevant national messages than reminding voters that it was the Republicans who irresponsibly shutdown the federal government in 2013 -- and that there is much more to the Affordable Care Act than a failed website.

National Democratic leaders need to understand that there is still a palpable rage festering out there: rage about massive unemployment, rage about cruel low wages, and rage about obscene income disparities.

In order to "deserve victory" Democrats must demonstrate they have the political will, and the discipline, to fix our nation's economic problems; and to create real job opportunities for millions of low and middle class young adults.

Democratic leaders would be foolish to proclaim dead the issues which spawned the failed Occupy Movement. As we approach the sixth year of the Hope and Change presidency -- and the midterm congressional elections -- Democratic congressional candidates ignore at their own peril the 800-pound gorilla in the room: a lost generation of young unemployed and underemployed adults, whose economic future, if still ignored, will make the 2014 general election, a day of reckoning.

Clearly, economic injustice is being felt harshly by young, career-minded adults -- millions brandishing pricy university degrees, enduring oppressive student debt, and bitterly settling for fast food or coffee house jobs. A recent Pew Research study found that one third of young people are living with their parents, and another seven percent were living with relatives. Among those persons ages 25 to 31, one fifth --20 percent -- were not in the labor force; and 27 percent were unemployed. (See "A Rising share of Young People Live in Their Parents' Home," Pew Research. August 1, 2013.)

Young unemployed adults feel duped by the bad economy; duped by a consumerist lure gone awry, and most of all, duped by politicians who over promise, under deliver, or just don't care.

Sadly, too many Senate and House aspirants are well-intentioned but live in a bubble, locked into catering to political elites, and shielded by over protective staffs.They are required to master the ins and outs of fundraising and campaigns, but lose contact with the real world and the real lives of their constituents -- especially the 21.6 million millennial youth sleeping on their parents' couches, waiting for their working lives to begin.

On November 1, 2013, food assistance was cut for 47 million Americans, including 22 million children. Many of those experiencing these food cuts can be found among the 13.8 percent unemployed, as listed in the Bureau of Labor Statistics' "Alternative Measure of Labor Utilization," listed as "discouraged" workers or part time workers looking for work. Considering that since September 2008 those counted as "not in the workforce" rose from 79.6 million to 90.6 million the true unemployment figures, particularly among the young, are likely far starker.

What our nation must confront is a simmering brew of rage that is percolating under the radar, beyond the reports of the 24 hour news channels, out of sight from the political bubble that our federal leaders comfortably inhabit. Just as the Occupy Movement emerged against the backdrop of the thievery of the Wall Street banks, this ignored rage among our growing lost generation of young people, is ready to manifest itself into a social movement.

Arguably, this rage of a lost generation, coupled with the frustration of their parents, could coalesce into a new voting bloc in 2014. Unlike the Occupy Movement, the focus of this voting bloc will be very clear. Young adults demanding a real economic future and working careers, and their parents insisting on a Congress that really works on restoring Made in America jobs.

History teaches that ignoring growing poverty, and middle class rage, often tragically sparks unpredictable civil unrest.To avoid this scenario, Democratic congressional candidates need to recognize and visibly fight for our nation's lost generation of young working adults, and campaign vigorously for economic fairness, Made in America jobs, and living wage reforms.

Only Democratic congressional candidates who confront the economic injustices within our midst, will "deserve victory" -- and in doing so, win Democratic majorities in both houses of the United States Congress.