A statement from YDA Executive Director Emily Tisch Sussman on the 2012 official party platforms:
With conventions underway, buzz around party platforms promises renewed attention to the talking points that concern young voters in the upcoming election. Already, we’ve seen increased visibility surrounding around issues such as abortion, marriage equality, job creation, and affordable education--likely important points in the battle over youth votes. This year’s Democratic platform offers, once again, policy and perspective that speaks to the interests of young Americans, in contrast to a GOP party that continues to trend further away than ever before.
After Senator Todd Akin's regrettable remarks concerning "legitimate rape" and conception, the status of women's health issues and abortion has taken center stage. The GOP platform supports a federal ban on abortions, effectively insuring government encroachment upon a woman's right to choose, and showing that their position is not actually that far from Akin’s. Tied into plans for a Medicare voucher system, both Republican nominees have also spoken out loudly against funding family planning organizations that offer birth control and contraceptives to women. The Democratic party, on the other hand, stands behind Obamacare as it continues to provide universal coverage of women's health services, no longer treats being a woman as a pre-existing condition, and affordable health care for all Americans, young and old.
Following YDA’s lead on LGBT rights, this year's Democratic ticket also promotes the expansion of marriage equality across the country, adding for the first time in history a marriage equality plank to the official party platform, which we called for the inclusion of in March. The addition of this plank comes on the heels of President Obama’s public announcement in support of same-sex marriage and the earlier repeal of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell”--both of which debuted to consistently positive reception by America’s youth vote. Conservative as ever, the GOP platform praises the efforts of those states and politicians who have fought against marriage equality in the past, unequivocally endorsing the Defense of Marriage Act in the process and stepping further in favor of actions that would amend the constitution with a federal bar on same-sex marriage, a position supported by Vice Presidential nominee, Paul Ryan. Despite the Log Cabin Republicans’ involvement in the drafting process, there appears to be little more in the way of LGBT advocacy than gesture of consolation. Although the plan's marriage clause embraces “the principle that all Americans should be treated with respect and dignity,” it remains unclear how exactly the party plans to do so.
Debt-bridled graduates and prospective college students have made affordable education a priority in this year's election. The Republican platform calls for the increased privatization of student loans, a move which would likely benefit big-money lenders and big-business schools. The message out of the Romney-Ryan campaign trail is no different: "Shop Around, Borrow From Your Parents" and eliminate Pell Grants. And while the Republican National Convention carries on in Tampa, President Obama is visiting college campuses across the countries promoting increased investment in Pell Grants, 10-year debt forgiveness, and the already utilized 10% cap on student loan repayment.
The differences between these platforms could not be more stark. Equal pay for women, affordable health care, job creation in environmentally-friendly industry, marriage equality--these are just some of the values of the Democratic party. Increasingly stringent voter ID laws, augmented spending on defense and a space program, tax cuts for the wealthiest sect of American, lax gun control legislation--all priorities which define the GOP as the wrong party for Millenials. As that demographic has made emphatically clear, social issues occupy a high priority in the minds of young voters; as both platforms have made emphatically clear as well, only one party has youth interests in mind.
- Emily Tisch Sussman