It’s been nearly 20 years since the “youth vote” came out in droves supporting a young Black senator from Illinois named Barack Obama, promising hope and change. After all those years, a new “youth vote” has lost hope and is only offered the status quo with each passing voting cycle.
The status quo became appealing after four years of President Donald Trump’s chaotic presidency, but even before that, the hope and change that Obama promised never quite materialized.
Obama’s crowning achievement was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), labeled ObamaCare. Despite the big promises that it started out as, ultimately it was filled with empty promises. The ACA has suffered decades of attacks from Republicans who for some reason hate Americans having affordable access to healthcare.
Other empty promises like closing Guantanamo Bay, pulling troops out of Afghanistan and banning assault weapons all fell to the wayside.
When Obama’s time was up in 2016, the Democratic National Convention (DNC) decided it was time to fulfill their promise to Hillary Clinton. They worked hard to stifle a progressive Bernie Sanders campaign that was supported heavily by the young voters at the time.
When Clinton inevitably won the primary, she struggled with shaking off her past choices that showed racist and homophobic tendencies.
Instead of working with young voters, and young voters of color specifically, she was showing up in videos telling young black women to “sit down, and listen.”
Maybe if Clinton had taken a seat, and listened, she could have perhaps created a platform the young voters could have put some faith in.
Ultimately many young voters didn’t see substantive differences between a Trump and Clinton presidency and sending a message to the DNC by taking away their support seemed like a better option.
The next four years would prove to be a chaotic, scandal ridden fiasco.
The helping hand of a deadly pandemic only added to the governmental disaster.
By 2020 most Democratic voters were eager for calm, stability and a return to the status quo.
Younger voters, however, still wanted to press for progressive change
We not only saw Sanders back in the race but noted progressive Elizabeth Warren and the first openly gay viable candidate for President, Pete Buttigeg.
Warren and Sanders both ran on progressive platforms promising change.
Buttigeg struck a chord with the rich white gay voters, but many inside the gay community found him out of touchUltimately the DNC again pressed for their candidate and got Joe Biden to the front of the line, despite his best efforts.
Biden is the epitome of status quo and since taking office has been impotent at effecting any real substantive change. Even his student loan forgiveness was a pittance of what was being asked for and now that is going to be tied up in judicial battles for years. Even the portion being offered can’t be delivered.
Democrats, especially of the presidential variety, have a habit of ignoring the hard issues that the young generation is demanding change for.
The economy, climate change and social issues are all stumps in every campaign, but never seem to find their way to a co-starring role in Schoolhouse Rock’s “I’m just a bill” cartoon.
All we’ve experienced for years is being ignored, broken promises and watching Republicans and Democrats spend more time fighting for power than actually trying to create real change in America.
The younger generation now see voting as simple harm reduction.
Politicians need to start listening to the youth and creating a world that they can survive in, or else we may just decide that burning the system down and starting over is the only way to see real change.