A little more than four years ago young Americans representing nearly every walk of life in our great country did something amazing--we elected a President. In many swing states, like my home state of Indiana, the entirety of the President’s margin of victory can be explained by youth turnout, newly registered voters, and the prolific momentum brewed on college campuses.
A generation long charged with being everything from whiny and ambivalent to self-serving and under qualified by our ‘elder’ generations, we stood out from those labels and demanded a public servant who would stand up for our needs in a rapidly changing global society. Recognizing the reality for our lives was and is fundamentally differently than previous generations; we demanded a leader who would embrace new voices and stand up to antiquated and often irrelevant political systems. We wanted a leader, like us, who was not afraid act differently and still believed in the hopeful promise of an ever-more elusive American dream. In that spirit, we elected Barack Obama.
As President Obama makes his final case for re-election this week, it is customary and normal for young professionals to ask whether the President has effectively lived up to the promises delivered and the expectations set forth a few years ago. It is my hope our generation will constantly and continually ask this question of all leaders and institutions entrenched in the service our nation and communities, and President Obama is no exception.
Below, I share my view as to the top 10 accomplishments the President has achieved during his first term directly benefiting young professionals in the United States. I hope you will share my viewpoint on the results and their implication--there is a clear choice for young Americans this Tuesday and it must be to re-elect President Barack Obama. We must keep the momentum going. We must continue to push our wonderful nation to new limits inspired by a new generation. We must move constantly forward.
1.) The President has spurred our economy, creating 5.2 million new jobs with 31 consecutive months of job growth.
2.) Created a responsible & bipartisan plan for deficit reduction looking forward to Clinton-era milestones while respecting the need to make major changes in critical education and infrastructure programs.
3.) Massive reform of the student loan system in the United States--making college accessible, debt manageable and doubling our investment in Pell Grants.
4.) Passage of the Credit CARD Act--protecting Americans of all ages against abusive banking practices and preventing credit misuse from crippling our financial system again.
5.) Provided 3.1 million young Americans with health insurance, mainly in the private sector--making health care affordable and spurring private industry and jobs.
6.) Expanded the Montgomery GI Bill--quality education is the very least our country owes honorably serving Patriots. As a Veteran, the parallel between this program and the program created for our Grandparents is striking in the potential it has to dawn a new generation of American growth and dreams.
7.) Ended the War in Iraq--naturally impacting our generation the most, the President stewarded a victorious outcome achieving all measureable objectives within promised timelines.
8.) President Obama stood up against hate. As the first sitting President to affirm same-sex marriage and in repealing “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” the President stood with our generation in beginning to end the last tired labels of oppression in our society.
9.) Lilly Ledbetter Fair Employment Act--Along with similar enactments in health care reform, the President has put some of the final cracks in the glass ceiling that must be shattered by the time our generations’ children, including my little girl, seek to make their mark on the World.
10.) Doubled fuel efficiency standards by working with, not against, American automakers –-creating a cleaner environment and supporting American manufacturing.
Sam Locke, 30, is the President of the Indiana Young Democrats and an active supporter of many Democratic candidates, committees and causes. He is a mass-fundraising and marketing professional for national-level not for profit organizations and is a former Democratic nominee for statewide office in Indiana. Sam lives in Indianapolis with his wife Kara and 18-month old daughter Molly. They are expecting their first son next month.