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The Election’s...

The Election’s Deciding Factor: Red Said, Blue Said

Dear Red Said, Blue Said,

We finally have our candidates: Barack Obama and John McCain. What do you think is going to be the deciding factor in this election? Why?

The Blue Perspective: Erin Egan

Young voter turnout will be the deciding factor this election.

Never mind that I’m not a young voter anymore. Shocking, given that I’m only thirty-three (and look much younger!). But it’s true—in some circles, only those under thirty qualify as “young voters” these days. Moreover, the experts say, as a “less-young voter,” I’m not part of the generation that will make the difference in this year’s election. The time for Generation X has passed; we are witnessing the rise of the Millennials.
And thank goodness! While GenXers are marked by apathy, cynicism, distrust of the government—and are the most Republican generation today—Millennials (roughly, those born in the 1980s to1990s) are politically engaged, civic-minded, and progressive-leaning.
Let’s dig a little deeper into the Millennial personality. These young voters:

  • Are fundamentally optimistic
  • Don’t perceive differences between races, genders, and sexual preferences as past generations do
  • Trust government’s potential though aren’t satisfied with today’s political system or their politicians
  • Believe government should expand opportunity for all, not just a few
  • Are deeply concerned about America’s social and economic inequalities
  • Believe we should do “whatever it takes” to protect the environment
  • Are “digital natives” who routinely use the Internet, email, text messaging, and social networking sites to inform and get informed

And, given these decidedly progressive attitudes, there’s more bad news for Republicans: Millennials vote! Continuing a trend that began in 2004, young voters have been turning out in record numbers in 2008, tripling and quadrupling vote totals in many primary states. By a two-to-one margin in the primaries, they voted for Democrats and, fortunately for us, they’re only growing as a segment of the electorate.

It’s hard to see how Senator McCain’s unflagging promotion of Bush’s legacy—an endless war, a mountain of debt, a devastated economy—will pass muster with the generation that must actually live with the consequences. How will McCain’s support for Bush’s blank check war in Iraq—to the tune of nearly $10 billion a month—and his plans that ignore health care needs, the mortgage crisis, and exploding education costs sit with the generation that knows this money should be invested in them, in education, alternative energy, and creating jobs?

This year, Millennials will ensure that Democrats—from the Presidency to the city council—have their day.

(And just to be safe, this Millennial-at-heart is secretly hoping her conservative, GenXer compatriots remain too apathetic to vote come November!)

The Red Perspective: Kathryn Biber Chen

I considered two answers to this question and decided to include them both: 

1. When they step into the voting booth in November, voters will consider one factor above all: experience. And while Barack Obama has many strengths, experience is simply not one of them. 

As poll after poll has shown, Americans believe our country is on the wrong track. They are pessimistic about the future and worried about what the next several years will hold—both for our country and for their own families. Our next president must be ready to lead the nation on energy independence, national security, education, health care, and the economy, to name just a few. He must be ready to reach across the aisle to generate bipartisan solutions. He must have the skill and knowledge to navigate rough waters, and he must have the confidence to do it with ease. 

There is no denying that John McCain possesses all of these traits and more. When Barack Obama was “community organizing,” John McCain was serving in the United States Senate. When Barack Obama was practicing law and working as a professor, John McCain was rising in national prominence for his unique ability to solve problems and work with political opponents. And when Barack Obama was just a child, John McCain was a prisoner of war for five long years.

This is not to mock Barack Obama’s accomplishments. He is a brilliant politician and will likely be a leader of the Democratic Party for years to come. His charisma is real. However, when it comes to choosing a leader to guide America through one of the most precarious eras in her history, I cannot fathom that voters would choose a candidate with so little formal experience. 

2. In addition, voters will eventually realize that Barack Obama is the single most liberal member of the United States Senate. This is not an exaggeration, and in a country where most people consider themselves middle-of-the-road, it is no small hurdle. In contrast, John McCain has for many years been known for his common-sense restraint—as much as Democrats try to paint him as out of touch, I would be shocked if such an attack will stick. At the end of the day, voters will select a candidate whose views are closest to their own, and for the vast majority of Americans, that candidate is John McCain. 

During this election season, DivineCaroline is presenting a twice-monthly column on politics from two points of view: one red, one blue. Each month you can read what Democrat Erin Egan and Republican Kathryn Biber Chen have to say about the issues. To make sure you never miss a Red Said, Blue Said column, just click on the author’s name at the top of the story, then select “Be notified when writer publishes” at the top of the page. We’ll send you an email as soon as a new column is published.