It is a well-known fact that college students, regardless of their majors, spend endless hours each semester studying the art of procrastination. In the past this skill was criticized and deemed detrimental to success in the “real world”, but no longer. Thanks to the 2012 election cycle, procrastination equals votes or at least the attention of voters.
In Speaker of the House John Boehner’s recent interview, he spoke on the issue of Student Loan Interest Rates and the need for legislation to keep them low. He stated, “Democrats and Republicans knew that this was going to take effect. Democrats and Republicans fully expected this would be taken care of and for the president to make a campaign issue out of this and then to travel to three battleground states and go to three large college campuses on taxpayers’ money to try to make this a political issue is pathetic and his campaign ought to be reimbursing the Treasury for the cost of this trip.”
In three months’ time, if legislation is not passed, student loan interest rates will jump from the current 3.4% to 6.8%. Such a startling and seemingly arbitrary increase makes for a wonderful campaign topic. It is not surprising that congress has waited until now to decide how to avoid such an increase. Ironic that it was a Democratic controlled House in 2007, which set the July 1, 2012 date for the 3.4% to disappear. Now as Speaker Boehner asserts, both Republicans and Democrats alike are working together to make future student loan recipients happy. Awe, bipartisan cooperation at last.
Yet timing is everything, and now the Republican controlled house is acting quickly to assure young voters of Republican interest in their welfare. Too bad the President already had his three-state tour planned before Boehner made his public declaration of support for younger voters. I guess the President could have changed his travel plans, or at least his talking points, but he didn’t.
Nevertheless, all this attention must be making college students giddy. Back in 2008, college age voters turned out to support President Obama. By the time the Republicans figured out the political momentum of young, tech savvy voters, it was too late to make headway with this voting group. This time around, Republicans are paying attention. That is what is really important here – paying attention to the youth.
Presidential campaigning via Air Force One has been standard since before the current president was born. Presidents go from place to place shaking hands, kissing babies and posing for pictures, all while taking their work and staff with them. During these trips, the “common man” has a rare opportunity to meet with our highest elected official. The fact that in this case the “common man” is a bunch of students, rather than business men or politicians does not change the value of presidential meetings with the public.
In an age where money equals voting power, it is nice to see the moneyless college masses actually matter to the politicians. Republicans should be avoiding further procrastination and jump on the band wagon. Rather than railing against the President for spending taxpayer money on visiting students and discussing student concerns, maybe they should be celebrating the fact that our younger voters matter. It is going to take years to fix the mess in D.C. It is going to take fresh ideas. The youth of today will inherit the mess their fathers and grandfathers created, and it will be the youth of today that will find the solutions. Politicians should stop procrastinating and recognize that young voters are just as important as old voters. While they might be cash poor, they are idea rich.
I used to be a college professor and taught U.S. politics. One of my joys was serving as moderator for the debates hosted by various student political groups. I was pleased they were getting involved. In addition, I made sure to get to know (or at least meet) local, state and national elected representatives and supported students as they looked for internships, volunteer opportunities, etc. (I miss that!)
Karen, thank you for your reply. I also miss the college debates. There was always such energy and passion, but without anger and hostility. Since we knew we were in school to learn, we were open to opposing ideas, even if we disagreed with them. It is that willingness to learn that makes the youth so valuable to our political system. Freshmen politicians should emulate freshmen college students more; they should take office prepared to learn.
Oh yes … a little humility would serve them well too! 🙂