As the 2010 midterm election season winds down, electoral politics experts agree that 18-29 year-old voters have a pivotal role to play on November 2nd. Anxiety among Democrats and Republicans concerning the way the political winds will blow the youth vote is crystallizing around the idea that over the last two years President Barack Obama did not fulfill his campaign commitments to the 14 million plus young voters so crucial to his 2008 victory.
Last week, The Houston, Texas local Fox affiliate framed the question like this: “Youth Vote: Obama Boost or Backlash?” or as reporter Greg Googan put it, “Twenty-four recession-racked months later, the question now looms: Is it still ‘change’ young Americans can believe in?”
When it comes to young voters, has the Obama Administration gone far enough?
University of Chicago Political Science Professor Cathy Cohen suggests in her new book Democracy Remixed, which should be required reading for any politician serious about the future of our democracy, that this sentiment taps into the reality staring young voters in the face everyday: failing schools, a cost of living out of sync with limited job options, an unforgiving criminal justice system, and an escalating war in Afghanistan with 20 and 30-somethings disproportionately on the frontlines, to name a few.
Bakari Kitwana is senior media fellow at the Harvard Law based think tank The Jamestown Project and the author of the forthcoming Hip-Hop Activism in the Obama Era (Third World Press, 2010).