Today’s youth have grown up in a time of unprecedented change. The evolution of computers and the advent of the Internet have not only changed the enormity of our innovations, but also the frequency in which they occur. In short, the world is changing and the economy is evolving at a rate we’ve never seen before. Unfortunately, the federal government can’t keep up.
Barack Obama, more than any candidate in recent memory, was adept at capturing that message. He understood that voters, and especially young voters, were tired of the status quo. Rather than tie his fate to the traditional message of Democrats—that a bigger, stronger government can solve all our social ills—he pushed for hope and change. By simply changing the government—making it more agile, less beholden to special interests, and less politically divisive—he could bring the hope of a brighter future to everyone, regardless of social class.
The message worked. By a 2-to-1 margin President Obama won the votes of 18- to 29-year-old voters in 2008. And he did it again in 2012 when he won 5 million more votes than Gov. Mitt Romney among voters under the age of 30. Despite Romney holding a 2 million-vote advantage over the President among voters aged 30 and older, Obama’s significant lead with the youth vote was enough to ensure his reelection.
But candidate Obama turned out to be a much different sort of leader than President Obama. The same man who rode into office touting “hope and change” came to admit that “the most important lesson” he learned was that “you can’t change Washington from the inside.”
It should come as little wonder then that young voters have become increasingly disillusioned with the president. In fact, a new Washington Post-ABC News poll out this week shows that Obama’s support among young Americans now sits at 43 percent, nearly half what it was at the beginning of his presidency. The Washington Post’s Sebastian Payne reports on the results:
His support from 18-29-year-olds has been waning slowly for some time. A similar Post-ABC poll from September 2011 marked the first time his approval ratings dropped below 50 percent among young people, during the budget battles and struggling economy that year.
But back then, his ratings were still higher among younger people than other age categories. Obama had a 43 percent approval rating among 30- to 64-year-olds and 40 percent from 65+ in September 2011. But for the first time in today’s poll, his approval numbers from younger Americans are now the same as the other two categories.
The reason for the frustration is clear: President Obama got it exactly backwards. He wanted to change the government to have greater control over the lives of Americans and the direction of the economy rather than allow an ever-changing economy to guide the course and role of our government. As famed economist (and lover of freedom) Friedrich Hayek wrote: “This is not a dispute about whether planning is to be done or not. It is a dispute as to whether planning is to be done centrally, by one authority for the whole economic system, or is to be divided among many individuals.”
We have a new video out today that attempts to update Hayek’s timeless idea in a way that still highlights the flaw in the antiquated big-government mindset of our industrial past.
“Washington is stuck because of old ideas that just aren’t working in our new world anymore. They are still trying to run our economy and our lives the old way: from the top down, politically and artificially from Washington,” the narrators say. “The result is one size fits all solutions. They still think that a few guys in D.C. can govern this new, wonderfully complex, incredibly fast, and elegantly diverse modern economy we’re moving into.”
Young adults, as the next generation of leaders, entrepreneurs, parents and educators do not have to accept inevitable economic decline. We can choose better for ourselves and our future. It’s time to get old Washington out of the way of new ideas. In that sense, our generation’s choice is less about Republican versus Democrat and more about new versus old. Won’t you join us?