The case for Obama 2012

| Forum Editor

My uncle once quoted to me, “If you’re not a liberal when you’re 20, you have no heart. If you’re not a conservative when you’re 30, you have no brain.” A conservative, he is probably patiently waiting for naïve liberal me to start griping about the government stealing my money. It is undoubtedly easier to accept paying taxes when they remain an abstract concept. Taxes aren’t the only point dividing the political spectrum, but at least in the current political climate with the recession and heated debt ceiling “negotiations,” the financial state of the union has risen to the top of everyone’s concerns.

Relative to the above quotation, graduating college seems to be the new 30, at least according to several news articles I’ve read. Younger voters, the backbone of the Obama campaign, are increasingly questioning their support for the president. It’s not as though young liberals are suddenly buying tri-corner hats and joining the Tea Party. Still, even the most ardent bleeding-heart liberal students have to graduate from college and begin looking for jobs. Somewhere between the ages of 20 and 30, times of freshman year and graduation, political priorities seem to change. In this tough economy, our generation has been hit particularly hard. Unsurprisingly, this has meant a shift in political attitude: If the incumbent government has not been working to improve my chances, is there any reason I should be rewarding it with my vote? And what about all of my money being blown on government health care or pork? Perhaps we are smarter and savvier, less taken in by pie-in-the-sky ideals. In my opinion, it’s just as likely that we are simply dissatisfied with an economic situation that cannot be fully attributed to either side of the political spectrum. It is easiest to blame the party in power for not “fixing” the economy, no matter which side is more appealing in an economic upturn.

Personally, I would have voted for Obama in 2008 had I been able. No presidency is perfect, and the economy hasn’t helped his public opinion numbers. Still, I think Barack Obama is an articulate, competent leader with plenty to offer. On the other hand, the Republicans have the appeal of a belief in the markets at a time when the economic situation is at its most nerve-wracking. Anecdotally, I have friends who have changed their political leanings since then, many citing the efficiencies of private sector versus the public sector as a key point. A little economics knowledge goes a long way; certainly, this would be evidence for my uncle’s brain-maturation theory. At the same time, a lot of these political revelations coincided with the economic downturn during a Democratic administration. Most of them are liberal on questions like gay rights and abortion, but fiscal matters seem to have taken top billing.

So will I be voting for Obama in 2012? Almost definitely. The president has had to make some tough but largely defendable decisions. He has plenty to offer, leadership-wise. I find it hard to identify with the Tea Party movement. The mainstream Republican candidates don’t appeal to me, mainly because of their stance on social issues (or in the case of Michelle Bachman, the crazy crap that comes out of her mouth). The allure of lower taxes and smaller government has not been enough to compromise my “ideals.” But then again, I’m not graduating for another two years. Forecasting dismal job prospects for a liberal arts major, I am planning on law school. When I have to support myself and pay taxes, maybe I will veer right. We’ll have to see if my brain grows in.

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