Gen Xasperated; Economic Uncertainty Keeps Young People on the Edge

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), October 2, 2008 | Go to article overview

Gen Xasperated; Economic Uncertainty Keeps Young People on the Edge


Byline: Heather Cobun, THE WASHINGTON TIMES

Some of them live in fear of becoming the Insolvent Generation. Whether mustering for debate parties or camping out overnight in Ohio to register and vote early, they are the coming-of-age vanguard of young people scared to death about the future of the economy.

I think we're the first generation in a long time that is not sure we're going to have it better than our parents did, said Cory Struble, a senior and president of the George Washington University College Democrats.

The economy has always been important to young voters, Mr. Struble said, but it has been taken to a new level in recent weeks, becoming the new No. 1 issue.

He mentioned the student loan crisis as one of the immediate ramifications for college students of the greater economic downturn.

Last week, red and blue tablecloths drew clear battle lines at GWU's debate-watching party, but there was one thing college students could agree on: whether Democrat or Republican, young voters are concerned about the economy.

The GWU College Democrats and College Republicans joined to host a viewing party for the first presidential debate, and will do so for the next two debates, including Thursday's face-off in St. Louis between vice-presidential candidates Sarah Palin, first-term Republican governor of Alaska, and Sen. Joseph R. Biden Jr., Delaware Democrat, in their sole clash before the Nov. 4 election.

Though the topics in the first presidential debate were national security and foreign relations, the economy was certainly on candidates' and voters' minds, as both senators had spent time in Washington in the days leading up to the debate helping craft an economic bailout plan.

Nearly half of the first debate focused on the candidates' views on the economy and how the current financial crisis would affect their governing. That surprised Brand Kroeger, senior and chairman of the GWU College Republicans, who said he was pleased to see that such an important issue was recognized and discussed despite being omitted from the agenda.

The vast majority of college students are looking at the next steps in their lives, and they put their faith in the American economy to have jobs, Mr. Kroeger said.

A key concern for young voters is how likely they are to find jobs when they graduate. A September poll showed that 41 percent of young voters want the new president to address the job market, particularly for college students, when he takes office, said Rock the Vote spokeswoman Stephanie Young.

Rock the Vote calls itself a progressive organization that uses music and other aspects of popular culture to encourage young people become politically active and vote.

I think it's a priority, policy-wise, said freshman Geoffrey Lyons, though he added that the economy shapes so many things that it is always a major issue. …

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