Obama turn­ing mil­len­ni­als into Repub­li­cans

The Washington Times Weekly - - Commentary - BY JOSEPH CURL

When sum­mer ends, mil­lions of adorable tod­dlers will head off to school for the first time. Each one will be as unique as his or her lit­tle fin­ger­prints, but ev­ery kinder­gart­ner across the coun­try will have one thing in com­mon: They’ve never known an Amer­ica that didn’t have a black pres­i­dent.

Their par­ents, though, in their late 20s or into their 30s, have. Some­one, say, 34 years old to­day will have been born in 1980, just be­fore Ron­ald Rea­gan took of­fice and the United States set off on a ex­pan­sive boom. That per­son will have lived through the go-go ‘90s, when the In­ter­net was just emerg­ing, the econ­omy was ex­plod­ing and the hous­ing bub­ble hadn’t yet burst.

Even into the early 2000s, de­spite the ter­ror­ist at­tacks that brought this coun­try to its knees, that 34-year-old found job af­ter job, mov­ing up the ranks, earn­ing enough for a nice apart­ment, then a sin­gle fam­ily home, and fi­nally, enough to start a fam­ily.

Those days are gone un­der Pres­i­dent Obama. Be­ing born just 10 years later, in 1990, changes ev­ery­thing. Those kids are now 24 — and most likely, liv­ing with their par­ents and still look­ing for that first de­cent job. When his­to­ri­ans look back, they will dub them the “Lost Gen­er­a­tion,” and they will be the first to hit their 30s still hold­ing a medi­ocre job — if they can find one at all. In­stead of be­ing on job three or four or five, with the pay raises each em­ploy­ment change would bring, they’ll be years be­hind ev­ery gen­er­a­tion that has come be­fore them.

As for pol­i­tics, that 24-year-old, like all those tiny kinder­gart­ners, as an adult knows only Barack Obama as pres­i­dent. When they were just 18, they were wowed by, as Vice Pres­i­dent Joe Bi­den said of his then-op­po­nent, that “main­stream AfricanAmer­i­can who is ar­tic­u­late and bright and clean.” And BHO talked a good game: He was here to run a post-par­ti­san Amer­ica, take us all to the Promised Land, and even stop the ris­ing seas.

But six years later, mil­len­ni­als are liv­ing in their par­ents’ base­ment — a stag­ger­ing 34 per­cent of those age 18-34 have moved back home. What’s more, they’re likely at­tend­ing com­mu­nity col­lege (tu­ition at four-year in­sti­tu­tions has risen roughly 1 bil­lion per­cent) and sling­ing burg­ers at the lo­cal dive.

In 2008, the first year those kids could cast a bal­lot for pres­i­dent, they were stoked about mar­i­juana le­gal­iza­tion, sup­ported gay mar­riage, op­posed the Sec­ond Amend­ment, wanted all il­le­gal aliens to be­come Amer­i­cans. So they looked past Mr. Obama’s thin re­sume of ac­tu­ally run­ning any­thing and just as­sumed ev­ery­thing would work out for the best. They took him on faith.

But that faith was bro­ken, shat­tered re­ally, and now, they’re adrift. New polls show great dis­il­lu­sion­ment among the younger set, and all Amer­i­cans, too. Nearly 60 per­cent now be­lieve the Amer­i­can Dream is out of reach (63 per­cent said that most young people will grow up to be worse off than their par­ents, ac­cord­ing to a CNNMoney poll). Just a quar­ter of Amer­i­cans think the coun­try is on the “right track,” ac­cord­ing to the lat­est NBC poll.

The hor­rors are even fright­en­ing the New York Times, which this week wrote a piece head­lined: “Why Teenagers To­day May Grow Up Con­ser­va­tive.” Of course, they make sure to blame Ge­orge W. Bush for much of to­day’s woe (as well as bash Rea­gan), but they also worry about the new­est mil­len­ni­als to come of age in 2016.

“Think about people who were born in 1998, the youngest el­i­gi­ble vot­ers in the next pres­i­den­tial elec­tion. They are too young to re­mem­ber much about the Bush years or the ex­cite­ment sur­round­ing the first Obama pres­i­den­tial cam­paign. They in­stead are com­ing of age with a Demo­cratic pres­i­dent who of­ten seems un­able to fix the world’s prob­lems,” the ar­ti­cle said.

The world’s prob­lems? He can’t fix Amer­ica’s prob­lems, and has all but given up try­ing to, now trav­el­ing the coun­try to cast blame on Repub­li­cans, play­ing pool or golf or darts or some­thing. But the New York Times says that tac­tic is get­ting old:

“The case will be­come harder to make with each pass­ing year if liv­ing stan­dards do not start to rise at a healthy clip for most house­holds — which has not hap­pened since the 1990s. This dy­namic is likely to be Hil­lary Clin­ton’s big­gest weak­ness, ei­ther as a can­di­date or as a pres­i­dent. Talk­ing about the Clin­ton-era 1990s boom — as she’ll surely do, to dis­tance her­self from to­day’s econ­omy — will go only so far with vot­ers too young to have any mem­o­ries of the 1990s,” the paper wrote.

If Repub­li­cans fix­ate on so­cial is­sues again, they will lose again. But young vot­ers are ripe to be picked up in 2016. They voted with their hearts last time, not their minds. But this time, they’ll be voting with some­thing even more pow­er­ful — their wal­lets.

And they’ll be voting for the “Hope and Change” that would come with mov­ing out of their par­ents’ base­ments.

Joseph Curl cov­ered the White House and pol­i­tics for a decade for The Wash­ing­ton Times. He can be reached at josephcurl@ gmail.com and on Twit­ter @josephcurl.

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