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The Youth Vote and the Election of 2012

By   Follow Me on Twitter     Message William John Cox     Permalink
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In one of the most striking political comebacks in U.S. history, the Republican Party marched in lockstep to victory in the midterm elections and seized control of the House of Representatives and state houses across the nation. Republicans made a battle plan, they disciplined their troops, and the corporations paid for the ammunition.

Unless the Democrats do something drastically differently during the next two years, the rich and powerful will cement their victory around the body of democracy and dump the barrel of freedom into the deep dark waters of cash politics where it will be lost forever.

Looking across the piles of dead and wounded on the political battlefield at the vast hoard of mercenaries gathering to administer the coup de gra e to representative democracy, paid for by unlimited secret corporate financing, there is only one reserve force with the motivation, power and loyalty to defeat the army of fascism those who have most to lose the youth of America.

Pumped Up in 2008

The elections of 2004, 2006 and 2008 introduced the Millennial Generation, those born between 1977 and 1998, to the U.S. political arena. The concentrated votes of these confident and mostly liberal young people helped the Democrats achieve a Congressional majority in 2006 and lifted Barack Obama over the top in 2008.

Fueled by aggressive efforts to increase the turnout of young voters from historic lows, more than half, as many as 24 million, Millennials cast their ballots in the 2008 election, and more than two out of three voted for Obama. With older Americans splitting their votes between the two candidates, the youth vote made a significant political difference in those states where the popular vote was close.

Believing in a progressive domestic social agenda and sharing a deep concern for the environment, the Millennials had high hopes for the future of their country under an Obama administration. Unfortunately, the "change we can believe in" and the "change we need" turned out to be chump change in the currency of political deal making.

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Ignored in 2009

Watching as the government continued to bail out Wall Street, suppress constitutional rights, and encourage deep ocean oil drilling, young people couldn't help but notice the compromises made by their president that favored the rich and powerful over the interests of students and entry-level workers.

The economy sucked, jobs evaporated, college tuition increased, coal slurry continued to spill into mountain streams, and oil gushed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Youthful enthusiasm was dampened by the repeated failures of President Obama and the Democratic Party to "change the way Washington works." Although more than half of Millennials placed the blame on special interests and Obama's political opponents, one third of the young people came to blame Obama himself for failing to deliver on his promises.

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The effects of their disappointment was quickly felt as young people reduced their political participation. Youth voting in the 2009 gubernatorial elections in Virginia and New Jersey was only 17 and 19%, and only 15% of Massachusetts young people turned out to vote in the special senatorial election in January 2010, resulting in the defeat of Democrat Martha Coakley.

Disenchanted in 2010

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William John Cox authored the Policy Manual of the Los Angeles Police Department and the Role of the Police in America for a National Advisory Commission during the Nixon administration. As a public interest, pro bono, attorney, he filed a class action lawsuit in 1979 petitioning the Supreme Court to order a National Policy Referendum; he investigated and successfully sued a group of radical (more...)
 

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