Last year was the dawn of a new, historic time in American history. The election of President Barack Obama due in part to the overwhelming energy and support of the American youth vote made the Promised Land seem imminent. However, one year later, there is little hope and the change has disillusioned instead of energized the young voters that so enthusiastically supported the optimistic presidential candidate.
“Epic Fail: Obama’s Policies Disastrous for Young People, Evaluating the President’s First Year in Office,” a forum at the National Press Club hosted by the Young America Foundation, presented a panel on how the policies of the current Presidential administration will affect those in their twenties and younger. The panel consisted of Michelle Oddis, an editor for the long-running conservative newspaper, Human Events, Captain Flagg Youngblood, an Army veteran and pro-military activist, Lisa De Pasquale, the director of CPAC (Conservative Political Action Conference), and Robert Bluey of the Heritage Foundation. Jason Mattera, of the Young America’s Foundation acted as moderator.
With the unemployment rate of young adults between the ages of 16 and 24 at 19% with a high probability of climbing in the near future, the Young America’s Foundation drew a bleak picture of the future of young Americans. Jason Mattera opened the session by commenting that the current political climate reflects the “lobotomy of our generation.” Michelle Oddis agreed, modifying the famous Churchill quote to say, “If you’re not a liberal at 18 you don’t have a heart, and if you’re not a conservative at 21, you don’t have a brain.”
As the director of the Conservative Political Action Committee Conference (CPAC), Lisa De Pasquale has unique experience meeting and acknowledging the core of the conservative movement. To create a comparison between the energized and informed base of primarily young conservatives that flock to CPAC every year, she and several select staff members attended America’s Future Now!, the liberal counterpart to CPAC. She noted that the all the attendees of the conference had “an apparent obsession with money.” She also noticed the age of those who attended to be higher than the average for the CPAC crowd. A look at the statistics takes by America’s Future Now! confirmed that while only 24% of the attendees identified themselves as students, nearly 50% of CPAC attendees were students. De Pasquale noted that “the young people are the newly converted.”
Michelle Oddis, the assistant managing editor of Human Events, spoke of the effect the fiscal policies of the Obama administration have had on the younger generation. She noted that with the increasingly competitive job market, it is becoming more and more difficult for students to return to school, graduate, and then reenter the workforce. In addition, the national debt is going to double in the next five years, and triple in the next ten. This leaves the majority of the burden not on those who have accrued these vast debts, but on the generations coming behind them. In light of Michelle’s comments, Rob Bluey, the director of online strategy from the Heritage Foundation noted that the proposed healthcare bill was bad for America’s young for three basic reasons. It subsidized the older generation while creating less disposable income from the younger generation and discouraged marriage.
Captain Flagg Youngblood, the director of military outreach for Young America’s Foundation, addressed the lack of Presidential support of campus military recruitment. From his list of strongly anti-military appointees to his urging for young adults to join “useless” organizations like AmeriCorps, President Obama has consistently undermined his position as Commander in Chief of the Armed Forces.
Despite the ominous predictions, the panel members suggested that things were looking up. The surge of youth attendance at CPAC has earned the annual event the title of “the Conservative spring break” while there are definitely great things in store for “tea party babies” whose parents brought them to tea party protests across the country. Lisa De Pasquale encouraged the audience, “The stakes are high. . . it’s up to us to continue fighting.”