Youth, voting, and the Iraq war

by Nathan Lean

Harvard’s Institute of Politics recently reported that when it comes to the ever-chased “youth vote,” Sen. Barack Obama leads the field of Democrats along with Republican Presidential nominee Rudy Giuliani. As I read, and then re-read the report, I was struck with a strange sensation of fear and utter concern. The juxtaposition of these two candidates with particular regard to the youth vote may as well be compared to the juxtaposition of peanut butter and Italian salad dressing. Before you balk at my statement, hear me out.

Hungry for change and direct involvement with the hijacked political process, youth have begun to turn out to the polls more than ever in the last few years. Stats show that the 52% of 18-29 year olds that showed up to vote in 1992 is well within reach this election season. Not only is that number well within reach, the results of the 2006 midterm elections prove that youth are unsettled and untrusting of a war-hungry Republican administration. In nearly every crucial run-off, the pro-war Republicans lost their seats as the voices of the people rang loud and clear.

Do you think there is a correlation between the youth vote and the ’06 results?

This brings me back to Obama and Giuliani. Sure—I recognize that term youth has no underlying connection to progressivism or the Democratic Party for that matter, but doesn’t it seem odd that Giuliani, who so fervently sides with the Bush administration on Iraq war policy, is leading among youth? If people are tired of the Bush administration’s failed policies, why support a protégé of the President. Perhaps it’s time to point out the major difference in the two—that which I just mentioned: the war. “The worst thing to do is show them weakness,” “I’m afraid that Democrats haven’t learned that,” Giuliani said. In my mind, weakness is not admitting your faults, and continuing down the same path, getting the same results without fail. If it looks like a duck, walks like a duck, and quacks like a duck –why in the world should we call it a chicken? We have accomplished nothing in Iraq.

The war was what the Democrats won 2006 on and it will still be fresh on their minds in 2008.

I hope the youth today realize that Barack Obama—though a fledgling politician at the time, had more foresight than any other candidate on the platform today. It’s as if he looked into the future, saw the mess we are in today, and said no—absolutely not.

If there is one good thing about Giuliani having the backing of Republican youth, it’s an indicator that the vote will be more “left” in 2008. I simply hope that youth recognize the failed policy of our current Presidential administration and heed that notion when they cast their vote.

I also invite those undecided voters to consider the following statement: “ We must understand that the might of our military must be matched by the strength of our diplomacy.” –Barack Obama.

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