Paul Krugman’s recent quip – that the Republican leadership has adopted the slogan “Kill the Future” to counter Obama’s “Win the Future” slogan in his State of the Union address – gets truer every day.
For example, one test of a democracy’s strength is the participation of youth in the political process. It’s simple: nations that have an eye on the future put youth – both the seed and the harvest of their future as a people – first.
In a biblical parable, Jesus tells of a sower who thoughtlessly dropped his seed on the path, or wasted it on rocky ground, or choked it among thorns. Consequently, the seed was lost. But when seed fell on good earth, it grew, yielding thirty, sixty even a hundredfold.
There is a new wave of Republican attacks advocating throwing our own “seeds” to waste. Fighting the right of college students to vote and participate in their college town is a current Republican tactic intended to dampen the youth vote heading into the 2012 election cycle.
“Average taxpayers in college towns,” said Republican New Hampshire state Rep. Gregory Sorg, “are having their votes diluted or entirely canceled by those of a huge, largely monolithic demographic group . . . composed of people with a dearth of experience and a plethora of the easy self-confidence that only ignorance and inexperience can produce.” [Italics mine]
Are we to believe the Republicans really care about regular taxpayers?
As the Republican attacks on public workers, especially teachers, in Wisconsin, Ohio and other states have shown, the so-called “defense of taxpayers” line is a complete fraud, a mere mask to politically disenfranchise and disempower, disorganize and destroy the bases of the Obama national coalition that overwhelmed the Republican war and dictatorship crowd surrounding George W. Bush. The Republican budget attack on National Public Radio seeks to silence even liberal and moderate views on nearly 100 public stations who will not survive without funding.
Further, their “taxpayer defense” campaign won’t have the slightest impact on the budget. Nor will any other campaign that does not make dramatic reductions in unemployment and a rapid return to a broad based and rising standard of living a priority. There will have to be tax increases, fairly applied, with exemptions for low incomes to ultimately pay down the investments we must make now. But every year we do not make them, add two years of depressed economic opportunity.
Details of Republican cuts show that investments in the nation’s, or children’s, futures are severely weakened or discarded. Pell Grants, student loans, support for education at every level is either cut or thrown in the trash in the Republican budget. The contempt they have for youth betrays a sclerotic and barren vision, a vision trapped by the past and unprepared for the challenges – and opportunities – our country must meet in building “a more perfect union.”
Other Republican attempts at disenfranchisement in various states include establishing poll tax fees to support a new voter ID system, strict photo ID standards that would prevent many students and military personnel from voting. Rolling back same-day registration and motor voter laws under the pretext of “strict ID enforcement” is underway in several states, notably Wisconsin, again targeting students, the poor and many working people.
If ever there was a time for revival of the student movement, it is this spring and fall.