As I sit here, tutoring while simultaneously trying to produce an essay for a class that I love to loathe, I find myself anxiously frustrated, and politics is the reason.
During the ending of the Bush-era, everyone was disenfranchised. Republicans were letting us down; Tea Partiers were driving us crazy.The economy was tanking; so we chose to put on an episode of Barack Obama: A new hope.
I encouraged my parents to vote for him. I’m not a democrat, nor am I a republican, but I was a young adult taken by the charismatic optimism of this energetic candidate. It’s been six years and after broken promises from every man and woman in Washington who swore they could make more jobs, we are hovering at 6.7 percent unemployment–that’s not including discouraged workers, so that number is incredibly optimistic. That’s not to lay blame with Obama, because I know that’s not how government works. The President holds very little power. But I am disappointed with his inability to reach across party lines to make compromise happen in a way that his democratic predecessor Bill Clinton did. The problem is that I see Barack Obama as a celebrity and not a politician.
Barack Obama shows up in the media places where no President has been before. He infiltrated social media, which is how he got young voters to come out: he was one of them, he understood. But now, we vilify it with such headlines as “March Madness: Trouble Ahead For Barack Obama’s Bracket” and “Obama Calls Ellen’s Oscars Selfie A ‘Pretty Cheap Stunt.'” Why is the President making March Madness brackets and watching Ellen newsworthy? We have sanctions in Russia, cyberterrorism in China, and the largest Army downsizing in US history. Aren’t those the sorts of headlines we should be seeing?
But it’s not just President Obama that I am taking issue with tonight. I am angry with the order of issues that we are prioritizing. I am graduating in 55 days, and my friends and I, will all go out into a jobless economy. Who knew that 7 years after economic downturn, we wouldn’t have rebounded?
We focused on healthcare instead. Healthcare was in need of minor reforms, not an overhaul. It should have been issue-by-issue reform; say they chose Medicare first. Then when that was over, it could have been Medicaid. Then we could have tackled whatever else needed tweaking. Instead, people all across America are going to be fined for not signing up for ACA, or dropped from the perfectly adequate coverage they had before.
And we shut the government down over it. It passed. If it isn’t going to work, let it fail. Let it fail when it will. Instead, we furloughed DC and stopped pay to GIs. Everyone was standing on principle. Is “principle” a new name for the disenfranchised citizen?
We chose healthcare. Why didn’t we pick Social Security, the motherload of all entitlements? Frankly, this issue should have been put to bed when former President Bush introduced retirement PRAs. Social Security is the third rail, but it doesn’t have to be. Pick a cut-off year, make exceptions for those who rely on Social Security now. Make it so that we have a choice, so that if I want to invest that fraction of my income in a PRA instead of Social Security I have the option. My parents don’t. And they have to invest in 401k accounts while paying into Social Security–money they will never see because 401ks aren’t protected from market dips, and Social Security is insolvent.
I am disillusioned with government, but I can’t get away from it. My major revealed the perceptions of government held by my generation and what I’ve seen alarms me moreover. Pro-socialists, pro-abortionist, anti-gay rights activists, anti-immigration, pro-communism–when did extremism replace rationality?
My political views are middle-ist. I think we need a mid-sized government that is minimally invasive when it comes to social issues and fiscal policy. Who should get a say in who you sleep with, or how you spend your money? The left and the right want to control one or the other. Why not free markets and free lifestyle choices. Instead we have broken markets and every politician wants to know exactly what happens in your bedroom. Moderates always have to choose, but why? I simply ascribe to mild-mannered government.