There was just something about “Hope and Change” that drove my generation wild.
So too it’s bedfellow “Yes We Can!”. But it wasn’t so much the rhetoric that got the youth vote so fired up, as much as it was the man who was delivering it. It didn’t hurt that Barack Obama was a younger and considerably more charismatic speech maker than his opponent who, let’s face it, is right up there with Archie Bunker on the Coolness scale. Obama wasn’t just the guy who excited the crowd. No, he had a way of making them feel that they too could literally “change” the world, if they would but follow him. Maverick McCain wouldn’t have gotten their blood pressure up if he offered a four year’s supply of Red Bull and Xbox Live. The youth vote, the Democrat Party’s most supportive age group for years to date, handed Obama 66% of their vote in 2008.
But all great campaign slogan’s, it seems, have a finite shelf life. Because after all the streamers have come down, and all the speeches have been spoken, the youngsters who drove the President into office actually expected Obama to do something. Just as they bought into the common refrain that a college education would all but insure a job to accompany all the debt, so too did they expect Obama to insure some positive outcome to accompany all the bluster about “transformation” and “shared prosperity”. And who wouldn’t. The votes we cast become something of a token of trust, cashed in with promise of return. Would that it were.
Fast forward to present-day 2013. Five years have passed, and the Coolest President Ever has thawed out a bit. A recent Harvard “Milennial’s” poll shows that President Obama is hemorrhaging support from the critical 18-29 year old group, who approve of his performance just 41% of the time, which represents a staggering 11-point drop in just 7 months right as he’s mounting a full-court press to shore up support among them for his health care law. A law they’re increasingly skeptical about. Forty percent believe Obamacare will bring about worse care, and just more than half (51%) believe it will result in higher costs. Fifty-seven percent outright disapprove of it.
But the President’s woes only begin there. Of greater concern-what must border on outright panic-is that among those without insurance, less than a third say they’re likely to enroll on the exchange. Of course, the fiscal viability of the entire program hinges on millions of younger, healthier whippersnappers enrolling to help subsidize the older and sicker. Increasingly, they’re saying “thanks, but no thanks”.
So, what happened? For one, they’re slowly waking to the fact that great campaign slogans make for great bumper stickers, but little else. “Hope and Change” doesn’t pay off $1 trillion of student loan debt. “Yes We Can” doesn’t make the prospect of buying health insurance any more palatable, particularly when one is coerced into swallowing its costs. “Forward” doesn’t make the Generation of Instant Gratification likely to tolerate an exchange website that crashes with greater regularity than the local coffee-shop hipster finds your taste in music too “mainstream”. Platitudes, not once, have ever helped buy a new car or afford baby diapers. They sound great, though, don’t they?
It’s all a bit like a kid realizing that Santa wasn’t real. Which, in the long run, wasn’t so bad because at least there were still presents under the tree. When Milennials found out Obama Claus was a sham, there wasn’t any one left to deliver on the promise of “stuff”. Sure, the President likes to prop Obamacare by saying we can stay on our parents insurance until 26, or that we have access to all the “free” contraception we could ask for should we ever get insurance–which is no slam dunk.
But so what? A 25 year old can’t stay that way in perpetuity. Remaining on their parent’s insurance only delays the inevitable, and if on their 26th birthday they still can’t get a job with benefits or afford insurance with a subsidy, what’s really been done for them? And one must be quite dubious of the utility of forking over hundreds of dollars one cannot afford for the privilege of “free” birth control. That’s like paying a $20 cover to get into a bar that has $3 beer. I think I’ll just stay home. It’s just modern-day bread and circuses. We’ll give you the cutesy stuff up front to placate you, but behind the scenes, you’re still screwed.
It must be quite the eye opener for the 66% who voted the man in the first time around. “He was just so ‘cool’. So with it. He got us, man”. That at least was true, he “got” us. Got us right where he wanted us. Willing to elect him into office on promises that were too much pipe dream, too much “shovel ready,” and not enough reality. Not even Santa’s crack team of elves is going to make a Milennial believe in Obamacare again. The gig is up. The coolness has run out.
Maybe that Hillary character is worth a shot.