To Jack Schlossberg:
My name is Bryan Jacoutot. I’m 23 years old, and a second year law student at Georgia State University in Atlanta, Georgia.
I recently had the opportunity to read your opinion piece on CNN that called on our nation’s youth to reelect Barack Obama this November.
I wanted to reach out to you because I believe you make a very valid point on the importance of citizen participation by our generation in this election. However, I think that your lofty portrayal of the accomplishments of President Obama mischaracterizes what will ultimately be his long term effect on our generation.
You touched on many domestic political issues, but failed to even mention what are undoubtedly the two greatest domestic issues of this election: Unemployment and fiscal responsibility. Your statement that President Obama has been our generation’s “biggest ally in Washington since the start of his presidency,” seems particularly misguided, and it ignores the economic realities facing young Americans as a result of the President’s policies.
One of the most important things to America’s youth is the ability to secure employment upon graduation. It is essential to our well being. It keeps us from a life of debt and dependency, and allows us to pursue the fundamental American ideal of self-determination. In this regard, President Obama has utterly failed our generation. Taking into account the dismal level of work force participation for people ages 18-29, America’s youth unemployment level is 16.7%.
For young people, high unemployment such as this carries with it unique challenges. Many of us, myself included, will graduate and enter the workforce with 6-figure levels of student loan debt. But the workforce President Obama has cultivated for us through his policies has little need for unproven graduates when men and women with years of experience are still receiving pink slips.
The only option for many of us will be to languish in our childhood bedrooms, provided that we’re fortunate enough to have parents who can afford to take us back in. I have heard over and over again from this administration that “America is on the right track.” But how long must we continue on a track producing unacceptable results until we finally realize we’re going the wrong way? How long can we justify blaming previous administrations for our current failures?
Young Americans are particularly vulnerable to the consequences of this systemic buck passing. Even if a new graduate secures a job and slowly begins paying off their private debts, what awaits them still further around the corner is a relentlessly increasing level of public debt. While this debt is attributable to both parties, it was President Obama who said back in February of 2009 that, “today I am pledging to cut the deficit we inherited in half by the end of my first term.” As we approach that end, it seems clear that he never had any such intention.
The American national debt surpassed $16 trillion last week, thanks in part to the $5 trillion that was added in the course of President Obama’s first term. While I’m aware that in our lifetimes we’ve always lived with trillions of dollars in national debt looming overhead, we must realize that this is not some imaginary number destined to perpetually accompany American government. It is real, and our creditors will someday call our debt. It won’t be Barack Obama who has to pay them back, it is our generation that will be charged with this task. This reality is overlooked all too often, but it is one of the greatest dangers facing our generation.
Instead of focusing on these issues, you spoke about topics like green energy and climate change as reason for reelecting President Obama. These areas of policy are clearly important ones, and they rightly deserve a place in our national conversation. But more so than government mandated energy efficient vehicles and climate change awareness, the single most important thing to our generation should be ensuring that America as we know it survives for the generations that will come after us. America cannot be a global leader in green energy production if we can’t even pay our own bills.
You also spoke about women’s rights, as if it was something Republicans wish to deny the many honorable women who comprise our ranks. Talk to any conservative woman, and you will realize that is simply not the case.
Unemployment and fiscal responsibility, although not as flashy as media manufactured “wars on women,” are the true issues of this election. On these issues, President Obama has failed our generation.
I believe that America’s youth will see that.
So, like you, I too hope that our generation comes out to vote this November. But I hope it does so to elect a new President. One who can do more than deliver well worded, but ultimately empty promises. Most of all, I hope that young Americans realize that a generation of privately indebted, unemployed, college graduates will be incapable of paying off the crushing public debt that will await us should we grant Obama the reelection he seeks.
A nation dependent upon our creditors was not the America we grew up in, and it certainly doesn’t have to be the America we grow old in.