When I was the age most millenials are now; the things I wanted were fairly simple and nonpolitical. I wanted to make more money at my job (the great truism of the post-industrial era is that everyone thinks he or she is paid unfairly). I wanted to be promoted more quickly than I perceived was happening (twenty- and thirty-somethings always think they’re smarter and more capable than is really the case). I wanted more time off (hysterical laughter is appropriate here).
Assuming that wants and needs haven’t changed all that much in the intervening 30 years; can Mitt Romney fix any of that? NO. Can Barack Obama? NO.
So, the first thing we have to do is make certain our expectations are realistic. One of the reasons millenials became disenchanted with President Obama was they mistakenly believed he could “fix” their student loan debts, grant them jobs, and even health insurance with a stroke of his pen on January 20, 2009. Anyone who paid attention in American History class knows that it’s not in the President’s power to personally accomplish this. It takes legislative effort, which means a long battle in Congress, to draft and pass workable legislation before the President can sign it into law. Could a President Romney do any differently regarding issues near and dear to the hearts of young people? And — even more important to ask — does he plan to make those issues a priority in a first term?
Judging from the list of issues on his campaign website; I’d answer both rhetorical questions, above, with: NO. Romney doesn’t mention jobs or student loans at all. He does mention healthcare, but if you dig down to the position paper on it, you’ll find his promise to issue an executive order to pave the way to repeal “Obamacare,” which means that if you’re still under age 26 and enjoying the grace of continuing on your parents’ policy ... you’ll be kicked right on off to buy your own policy.
The statement under the Education heading is bland boilerplate: education is the key to American greatness … blah, blah, blah. As Bill Clinton famously jibed in another context: “There’s no ‘there’ there!”
Romeny does mention Social Security as an issue; but again, on the dig-down, there’s only a wishy-washy statement about increasing the retirement age. The main Republican constituency, after all, is older and Romney knows it. He will not make any public statement attacking Social Security or Medicare … not with my generation still wagging the dog!
And, speaking of the main Republican constituency, don’t forget all that primary campaign pandering to the religious right, and the social conservatives who are NOT in the same philosophical groove that millenials are when it comes to LGBT rights, abortion, contraception, legalization of pot, etc. Young people won’t find much sympathy from Romney for any of those things — ever.
Realistically, we must all wait until the end of the Republican Convention for the GOP’s full platform statement. Those will be the issues and positions upon which the presidential campaign against Barack Obama will be fought. There may be some differences between Romney’s primary campaign positions, as presented on his website, and his presidential campaign positions … but don’t you DARE call any of them flip-flops!