Killing Enthusiasm: President Obama's Afghanistan Strategy Turns Off Young Voters

Robert Greenwald


President Obama should rethink the Afghanistan war for lots of reasons. The war isn't making us more secure. It's costing us billions (soon to be trillions) of dollars. It's costing us jobs. The war causes massive human suffering for both Afghans and Americans. We can now add another reason for the president to rethink the Afghanistan war: it's hurting his party's re-election efforts among a key constituency.

On February 18, 2010, Pew Research published a study titled "Democrats' Edge Among Millenials Slipping." The report warns that among voters born after 1980, Democrats lost more than half of their lead in party identification over Republicans during 2009. In 2008, Millennials favored Democrats over Republicans by a huge 32-percent margin (62 percent to 30 percent). That margin has now shrunk to 14 percent.

This sharp change in such a short period could be a major problem for Democrats heading into the 2010 and 2012 election cycles. Pew previously reported how important these voters were to Democratic victories in 2008:

[In 2008], 66% of those under age 30 voted for Barack Obama making the disparity between young voters and other age groups larger than in any presidential election since exit polling began in 1972.

...[Y]oung people provided not only their votes but also many enthusiastic campaign volunteers. Some may have helped persuade parents and older relatives to consider Obama's candidacy. And far more young people than older voters reported attending a campaign event while nearly one-in-ten donated money to a presidential candidate.

One of the major reasons cited by Pew for Millennials' sharp loss of enthusiasm for Democrats was young voter opposition to President Obama's policies in Afghanistan.

According to the report:

"Only about a third of Millennials (34%) approved of his handling of the situation in Afghanistan while 50% disapproved. ...That represented a sharp reversal from July, when a majority of those younger than 30 (51%) approved of Obama's performance on Afghanistan."

Why the sharp reversal? Millennials strongly disapproved of the President's December 2009 decision to send 30,000 additional troops to Afghanistan. And, Millenials are rapidly souring on militant foreign policy in general, with only 38 percent agreeing with the statement that "peace is best achieved through military strength."

Democrats can't afford to hang on to the dead weight of a brutal foreign policy in Afghanistan. When a war has killed thousands of children, almost a thousand American troops and cost us almost a trillion dollars, electoral peril isn't the only reason the President should rethink his policy. But it is a good reason.

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Replies to This Discussion

Thank you Tara. As an old person the various wars and potential wars are the single most important aspect of everything we discuss here for a variety of reasons. That they cause death and harm innocent people notwithstanding, they are distracting by margins of magnitude and cause us to focus on an unneeded burden while Big Pharma, the banks and special interests run away with our political, social and economic standards shredding democracy and imposing a police state upon us.

Gifted with a vast and colorful imagination I still couldn't have imagined even one small aspect of the world we're surrounded by today. It was imagined by others but I had no idea when reading it that 1984 would mutate from fiction to nonfiction.
Thanks Jeff, the war or should I say wars are the number one threat to our liberty because they are used to divert our attention away from what is going on right here at home while the war machine uses guns and bombs to dominate and eventually use to dominate and occupy us. It's evil incarnate and my greatest hope is that one day I will be able to see peace realized and war no more.

It's nice to see that young people are starting to wake up to the brutal reality of war and are speaking out against it. That is always where the true voice the young, the spirit of a thousand warriors that have many more years to wave the banner of peace. Let's hope that somebody's listening!



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