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Republicans can learn from Obama’s mistakes

Published: Thursday, January 12, 2012

Updated: Thursday, January 12, 2012 02:01


Keep trying, Republican candidates, and maybe your voracious Twitter blasts will attract a couple of young voters. #JKLOL

Young voters don't need the appeal of Twitter, Facebook or text messages to decide whom to vote for. They are looking for a candidate who can connect with them on a more basic level — stances on important issues.

According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, 13 percent of eligible voters under the age of 30 participated in the Iowa caucus in 2008. This year, there was only 4 percent participation. Perhaps the decline in interest started when President Barack Obama's constant push to gain the attention of the young and hip couldn't mask his failure to stick with promises made on the campaign trail. The Republican candidates would be wise to learn from his mistakes.

Obama's 2008 campaign was somewhat reminiscent of a 1960s Beatles concert with swooning girls, high-pitched shrieks and cult-like followers. But Obama's appeal went beyond looks.

The Obama of four years ago rallied young people behind a cause, an undefined but alluring promise. Obama gave them something to believe in — hope, change. Young people saw an outsider — a leader who could connect with their struggles in a recession-plagued era.

But then Obama moved to Washington and became part of the dirty game known as politics, where elections become the driving force behind every pre-programmed syllable and his young supporters began to wonder exactly what kind of hope and change he was referring to.

His passion for health care turned into paying off uncooperative senators to agree with him.

According to Politico, Senators Ben Nelson (D-Neb.) and Bernie Sanders (I-Vt) received $45 million for Medicaid expansion and $10 billion for new community health centers for their states, respectively, in exchange for accepting his health reform package.

His promise to fight for human rights turned into a fight to keep swing voters.

His 2009 promise to close Guantanamo Bay proved to be a smattering of words to gain support, as Obama plans to send more people there, according to the Wall Street Journal.

As a result, his ratings fell from 70 percent approval in 2008 to the low 40s last year, according to Gallup polls.

If Republicans, or Obama, hope to see young people turn out at the polls, they need to stop worrying

about precisely that and start finding a cause for people to believe in, not a catchy slogan.

Tweets like Ron Paul's "@JonHuntsman we found your one Iowa voter, he's in Linn precinct 5 you might want to call him and say thanks" may be funny but serve no end outside catty politics.

The Republicans would be wise to stand up for their beliefs before they run into the Obama conundrum — the sense of elitist detachment from the common man.

In a season where young people are hurting from lost jobs, returning from war and struggling to pay off loans, a candidate who can campaign for a cause instead of politics is needed.


Divya Kumar is a sophomore majoring in mass communications and economics.

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