In 2008, I was a 21-year old college junior and first-time voter. At the time, I had an opportunity to shake then-Sen. Barack Obama’s hand as he marched out from the student center at Georgia Tech, my college, to address a packed crowd in downtown Atlanta. Sparked by this encounter and riding the anti-Bush bandwagon, I checked my ballot box for Mr. Obama on Election Day, and optimistically began to look for the hope and change he promised.
Little has improved since then, and the experience left a sour taste in my mouth toward democracy. Apparently, not so much though for the rest of my generation, which held no qualms about handing 60 percent of its vote to the president in November. It’s hard to blame them, though. Liberalism requires less discipline and responsibility and promises much more in the way of free stuff, and living on a college campus persuaded many that Mr. Obama would indeed be the greatest politician ever elected. Now in the real world and confronting a harsh reality, I’m more convinced the president is the greatest salesman to ever sit in the Oval Office.
For example, though not an economics major at Columbia or Harvard, the president has managed to infuse my generation with mind-blowing fiscal and financial dogma, to the point that my peers now believe economic growth is spurred through subsidies, green energy, bailouts, loans, progressive taxes and welfare. Moreover, ingenuity, entrepreneurship and hard work aren’t considered prerequisites for success but rather, every successful person got to be where he is because he was born with a silver spoon in his mouth or somebody built his enterprise or brand for him.
In that vein, the economy of the future will certainly require more skilled labor. Mr. Obama, however, has many young people assured they are smart enough to go to a four-year university, while the achievement of American students has been in steep decline. In addition, many believe discriminatory affirmative action policies are necessary to counteract unfair disadvantages minority students face, while massive, unrepayable student loans are now the norm.
Constitutionally speaking, freedom, justice and the rule of law is a mixed bag. My female peers are now certain their reproductive rights are under siege, while a growing crowd asserts everyone should be able to roll a blunt on the sidewalk or take a cannabis break at work. On the other hand, many think capitalistic right-to-work laws should be banned and traditional marriage should be redefined. Americans are blatantly too fat, so veggie portions should be mandated and soda sizes need to be regulated.
Finally, on the international front, Generation Y is convinced it should be ashamed of being American. It is we who are to blame for the conflict in the Middle East, the thinking goes, while Guantanamo is barbaric, the wall on the Mexican border is inhumane, the Cuban embargo is obsolete, and Shariah law should be tolerated. On top of that, we obviously have disrespected other foreign leaders in the past, so now it is proper decorum for the president to bow to them on official visits.
Yes, young Americans have succumbed to a myriad influences from Mr. Obama, and his inauguration speech already hinted at a bevy of possible new ones, including gun control and immigration reform, among others. In fact, it took his administration less than a week to overturn our armed forces’ policy of preventing women from serving in combat units.
While no one denies all of America is experiencing tough times right now, it is Generation Y that will bear the full consequences. One would think with a soaring youth unemployment rate, a $16 trillion national debt, rising costs of higher education and health care, and more taxes, young Americans would come to their senses. Yet we continue to subscribe to the destructive, progressive agenda the president has pursued during his first four years and has laid out for his next four.
A person who has nothing to believe in will believe in anything. My generation has lost its sense of direction. We’d better start figuring out what we believe in — and why — or who knows what the president could convince us of during his second term.
Josh Krisinger, 25, is a Georgia Tech graduate and former Fulbright Scholar.