Last month, President Obama took the oath of office for a second time, charging into his second term with a stirring address that evoked American principles spanning from the Declaration of Independence to the Civil Rights movement. And in what should have been a memorable and transcendent moment, President Obama stated “We, the people, still believe that our obligations as Americans are not just to ourselves, but to all posterity.”
This was the moment. This was the part of Obama’s inaugural address where unbound from the concerns of another election, the President would challenge America and the lawmakers of both parties to finally confront the most daunting and obvious of challenges facing America today.
But President Obama’s next line would only disappoint. “We will respond to the threat of climate change, knowing that the failure to do so would betray our children and future generations.”
Really? Climate change?
President Obama’s Second Inaugural was an insult to young Americans and those generations of Americans yet to be born. In what could have been a moment emulating President Kennedy’s 1961 challenge for Americans to go to the moon, President Obama shirked the opportunity to confront the enormous and growing national debt that currently stands at $16.4 trillion. Instead, a gathering storm of entitlement spending and government programs threatens to tank the American economy and saddle future generations with an unfair and onerous yoke. And the President barely even mentioned it.
On the day President Obama was inaugurated a second time, the nation’s unemployment rate stood at 7.8%. Which in a depressing bit of irony happens to be the exact same rate as when President Obama first took office. But what has changed, at a pace never before seen in American history, is the rate that the national debt has exploded.
When President Obama took office in 2009, the national debt stood at $10.6 trillion. Today, after a failed trillion dollar stimulus package and new burdensome entitlement program called Obamacare, the national debt stands at $16.4 trillion and growing.
And what have the youth in America received for this price tag of $6 trillion? Today’s unemployment rate for “Millennials” (ages 18-29) stands at a staggering 11.5% according to the non-partisan Generation Opportunity. And with the declining labor force participation, Generation Opportunity estimates that there are another 1.7 million “Millennials” who have given up on looking for work, pushing the youth unemployment rate to 16.3%.
Four years into the Age of Obama, 1 in 8 young Americans is unemployed or have given up on looking for work. Add to that the exploding national debt that currently is on pace to crest $22.5 trillion in 2016, and young Americans have little hope for the future, and nothing but change in their pockets.
Of course, this beleaguered generation of young Americans is largely responsible for Monday’s scene on the Capitol steps. According to Peter Levine of Tufts University, “It is because Romney lost the youth vote pretty decisively that he will not be the next president of the United States.”
2012 ought to teach conservatives that they ignore the youth of America at their own peril. But if conservatives offer a bold and articulate message of liberty and prosperity, adequately explaining the looming yoke of an exploding debt and the dithering of a President who has crafted an agenda at their expense, an opportunity could present itself not only for electoral victories, but a mandate from young America for real solutions to America’s fiscal crisis.