Obama can move country forward

Tuesday , March 18, 2014 - 3:26 PM

Turner C. Bitton

Election season is always too long, too nasty, and too contentious for most people and it is often very hard to feel like you have a place in either party or in our electoral system at all. Too often it becomes about the cons of one candidate instead of the pros for another.

As a 20-something college student, it’s been my distinct pleasure to hear both sides of just about every argument (albeit often heavily slanted toward the right with a strong guilt trip that my actions are somehow ruining our country).

Before I begin, it is compelling for me to note that those aged 18 to 24 constitute 24 percent of those eligible to vote. Clocking in at 46 million strong, we are one of the largest constituencies in the country.

As a basic number, we are more numerous than seniors (39 million), Latinos (21.5 million), and just about every other voting bloc. However, we have some of the lowest turnout. Apathy runs high in my generation and it has been my mission.

No other constituency of 46 million voters works at such a high rate of minimum wage jobs (in 2011, 49.5 percent of those 16 to 24 worked at or below minimum wage), with the fewest benefits (in 2008 and 2009 almost 40 percent of those 18 to 30 had no insurance), and represents the average member of our military (the average age of our armed forces is 29.7) and received such little representation in government.

That changed in 2008 when 24 million of us voted, catapulting President Obama and the Democratic Party to a landslide victory over John McCain. Our numbers flipped states like North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado, and New Mexico in President Obama’s favor and fundamentally changed the electoral landscape for years to come. We also monumentally changed the Democratic Party to become the only party that has the interests of youth at heart.

When we elected President Obama, the greatest ally that young Americans have ever known entered the White House and the Democratic Party became the party to lead America throughout the 21st Century. Democrats understand; women deserve equal pay for equal work, student loans are far too costly (Obama paid his off around 2004, the same year he became a U.S. senator), predatory credit card practices threaten students’ financial security, and people like my partner and I deserve to be treated fairly.

As evidence of Democrats’ commitment to youth, please see the following list of actions for your reasons to vote for Democrats on Nov. 6.

Remember, in your car, the D is for drive forward and the R is for reverse:

In 2009, merely weeks after being inaugurated, the very first bill Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to move forward the promise of equal pay for equal work.

A huge bipartisan coalition passed and President Obama signed the CARD Act, which prohibits credit card recruitment on campus and predatory reward schemes for college students to protect against dishonest practices aimed at cash-strapped students like me. After signing up for a credit card in college, I learned the hard way that getting bailouts aren’t as easy as the banks get them (Thanks Mom!).

In 2010, Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law major student loan reform to move forward the promise of an affordable college education.

This legislation included doubling funding for Pell Grants, capping income-based repayment at 10 percent of income, and now anyone who enters public service (nurses, teachers, firefighters) can have all loan debt forgiven, so long as they pay their bill on time for 10 years.

Democrats passed and President Obama signed the aptly named Obamacare which allows students such as myself to stay on my parents insurance until I am 26 (which benefits all of my friends who are returned missionaries who started school later than I did) and guarantees that our premiums will cover contraception and other family planning services to move forward the idea that family and education aren’t mutually exclusive.

Democrats (with the help of several Republicans) lead the charge to repeal "don’t ask, don’t tell," and pave the way forward for countless of our LGBT neighbors, family, and friends to serve our country openly.

The choice is clear for all young Americans, let’s re-elect President Barack Obama and move our country forward.

Turner C. Bitton is the President of the Weber State College Democrats and Vice Chair of the Utah Federation of College Democrats. He lives in Ogden with his partner Christian and can be reached at: www.weberdemocrats.org

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