The second presidential debate started off with a question from Jeremy, a college student who wanted to know what each candidate would do to improve the economy to help young people get jobs when they graduate. Both candidates’ answers were lacking, but President Obama seemed to have missed the question entirely.
Instead of addressing the student’s concerns, he focused on his plan for creating more manufacturing jobs–like the union jobs he helped save in Detroit.
For a president who was propelled to the White House on the hopes and dreams of America’s youth, Obama has helped young people the least. The poor economy has hit young people especially hard. The unemployment rate is close to 11.8 percent for 18-29 year olds, and according to Generation Opportunity, 47 percent of Millennials say that the economic policies coming out of Washington are hurting them, while only 29 percent said they are helping them.
The president’s pandering to America’s youth throughout the last three-and-a-half years and his re-election campaign hasn’t gone unnoticed. President Obama has talked extensively on how he plans increase college affordability. During pre-debate coverage, DNC Chair and Florida Congresswoman Debbie Wasserman-Schultz even claimed that the president has a “plan to cut college tuition increases in half.” While nothing could be found on the candidate’s website to that effect, I would assume that she was referring to a pledge the president made during the Democratic National Convention.
If Obama’s policies on job creation were working for America’s young people, he wouldn’t have to promise policies like debt forgiveness on college loans or pass laws that allow young adults to stay on their parent’s health insurance until they’re 26. It’s of little surprise that, in light of the president’s shortcomings in handling the economy, he chooses to bait America’s young people with promises instead of hook them with results. 64 percent of young people ages 18-29 believe the availability of more quality, full-time jobs upon graduation are more important than lower student loan interest rates. America’s young people don’t want more empty promises—they need results.
This election season, young people need a candidate that will implement policies that promote business and help their demographic through providing jobs. With nearly half of college graduates unemployed or underemployed, the stakes could never be higher. The lack of opportunity that young people have today is sure to have long lasting effects on their careers and long-term earning potential.
While the president will likely win the youth vote once again, it won’t be by the 7:3 margins he commanded in 2008. Young people are wising up to the broken promises made by politicians. They’re starting to understand that they don’t need a “cool” president, or the promise of more entitlements. What they need is more jobs and a brighter future.
So next time one of your friends wants to impress you with their vintage “hope and change” t-shirt, just remind them that living in their parent’s basement isn’t “cool.”
Michael Moroney is the Director of Communications at the Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity