Approaching a Tipping Point With Our Youth
Tipping points are highly prized policy milestones among activists and political geeks, for they herald cherished and much-worked-for markers of real change. What was not acceptable suddenly is, what was not possible finally will happen.
Of course more intensity will be generated to yell at the politicians to at last get with it, for politicians are naturally innately cautious, conservative policy animals, it’s very difficult to gel a personality and policy set that actually works and wins elections, even though the policy environment has changed they’ll stubbornly stick to their muddy obsolescence, often to their eventual defeat.
Four general policy stances of the current Democratic Party seem safe and have worked for a long time: issue platitudes on global warming, ignore incredibly rising college costs, accept a slavery minimum wage, and go along with the war on drugs.
These weren’t deliberate choices, they were made within the cultural and political constraints present at the time. President Obama tried to raise the minimum wage but the House Republicans blocked him. The true cost on the war on drugs isn’t apparent until 30 years in and we are the prison masters of the world.
The ridiculous Republicans are stupid and stubborn enough to frantically insist that global warming doesn’t exist, so we look good by issuing statements that it does and action should take place. Right? That’s all, it works for an election in 2012 or even 2016, but eventually you fry the planet. Hello? This cannot be put off forever, of course our young people see it most clearly, they have to inherit the mess!
Unions have been crushed to 7% of the workforce and there is no market mechanism to raise wages. There’s a federal baseline, but the poor and youth have no power in DC and notoriously do not vote, so issue platitudes and tepid votes on the minimum wage and basically say you’re not Republicans, who would like to eliminate it.
Just as with global warming eventually there comes a point where this becomes laughably untenable, $7.50 an hour is plain slavery, and with the vaunted $15 at 40 hours here in Silicon Valley you’re going to starve-- if you can make it all.
$15 is $2,400 a month before taxes, if you’re lucky you can rent a room here for $1,000. Public transportation is a joke, so you’re going to have to fuel and keep up that used clunker, then utility bills and clothes and a phone, it’s top ramen all the way for you, baby. Forget about the American Dream forever, punk.
Of course this absolute disaster disproportionately affects our young people, they’re the ones trying to get a start or stuck with a lousy job in a crippled economy.
Somehow it became all right for textbooks to soar 750% in ten years, desperate State governments raising fees and gutting public education, it might as well all be private now. Declaring war on cannabis and being the punitive badass worked for some election sets but eventually created a disaster of unbelievable proportions.
Two underlying patterns should becoming clear in this story, tipping points of change are or about to occur in four policy areas that have acutely affected our young people, causing enormous grief, pain and waste.
Dr. Atrios at Eschaton has been horribly dismayed by all this for a long time, as have I. He sees the fairly obvious, the country is sick and not doing well, so it blames and scapegoats the least powerful and vulnerable among us. Many among us will recognize this human behavior.
Naturally our youth have basically abandoned the Republican Party, oh they vividly see the problem but are too stupid and dysfunctional to change. The Clinton campaign is limping along with a minimum wage compromise and climate change platitudes, while at least Sanders supports public education financing and the #FightFor15. That’s why the median age volunteer for Clinton is 50, for Sanders 20.
Should Sanders lose the nomination this will be seen as another marker in an ongoing policy disaster for our young people, the boomers can’t even deliver a working biology for the future!
I implore with every atom in my brain for the Clinton campaign to see this, the safe, tentative, sound-bite bull of the past is not working for wages, global warming, tuition and cannabis, our young people are rightfully frantically concerned and need real change.
Or eventually they will abandon us in bitter futility, just as they did to the Republicans, already our youth participation rate is appalling. This can squirt completely out of control, what if we lose too many youth votes in the coalition and lose to Trump? The tipping point of our youth participation is here or nearly here, Madame Secretary, ignore it at your greatest peril.