In 2008 Barack Obama won the presidency in large part due to energetic turnout among young people. After eight long years of the Bush Administration, young Americans were starved for hope in their future and looking for a way to move their issues forward. These votes turned out heavily, and broke decisively for the president.
Over and over again at NN11, speakers and bloggers are taking for granted that the president has a problem with his voters. Addressing the problems the president and the Democratic Party have with their base has been built into most panels and most speakers remarks. To a person all the speakers have alluded or directly addressed the electoral problem Democrats, especially the president, are facing for the 2012 cycle: a lack of enthusiasm and voter apathy as a result of no fundamental change from conditions during the darkest days of the Bush administration.
This afternoon’s youth voter turnout panel with Debbie Hines, Rep. Donna Edwards, Jeneba Ghatt, Kristal High, Judy Lubin and Scott Roberts is not an exception to this rule.
Sometimes I wonder what planet these people are living on. For instance, Kristal High of politic365, and African American politics website, just repeats the general administration line – that we have to “educate people about accomplishments” and be “guarding against voter apathy” and “remind people of what is at stake”. In other words, it’s the 2010 midterm argument. But the other guys are worse! Vote Democratic.
High even floated the most ludicrous idea I’ve heard so far at this conference. At one point she complained about people not seeing local, state and federal politics as an interconnected web, and actually used the term “trickle down” to describe how the connections between the different levels of government work together. She suggests a public education campaign to show people how interconnected the levels of government are.
I can’t think of a worse idea than to convince people to associate all politics with the cesspool of failure, corruption, faux liberalism and Galtian nonsense that is politics at the federal level. That’s essentially telling people to completely give up. Even the most ignorant Southern redneck knows that you can’t count on the federal government for anything, so why would anyone want to conflate state and local politics, where some progress is possible, with federal politics? If there is a quicker way to get people to check out even more I’m sure Obama will find it, but imagining that is beyond my consciousness.
Lubin and Rep. Edwards also got in on the “educate people about accomplishments” talking point.
I’m trying, but still failing, to fathom how someone can think that in the face of widespread disappointment and disenchantment, the problem is that people just don’t know what you’ve done. Here, I’ll help all you elected officials and DC insider types understand where you’re going wrong:
IF PEOPLE CANNOT SEE THE CHANGE IN THEIR LIVES, YOU’RE NOT GOING TO CONVINCE THEM IT’S THERE. The simple fact that enthusiasm is so low is prima facie evidence that the President and other federal Democrats are complete failures at pursuing the agenda of their base.
Essentially, what we’re seeing here is a bunch of people who don’t have to worry about their paycheck talking about how they’re going to convince people who do that there is a “there” there when there isn’t. Confusing? Good, it should be. The mental gymnastics required to believe that are possible only with a DC paycheck.