Opinion: If the alternative is Trump, why are young voters abandoning Biden?

I almost spit out my Geritol the other day when I read what a young voter in Philadelphia told NBC News about why she’s disillusioned with the upcoming presidential election.

“I don’t think the presidency has much of an effect on what happens in my daily life,” said Pru Carmichael, who supported Biden in 2020 but says she won’t vote for president at all this year if she has to choose between disappointing incumbent President Trump. .

Oh really?

opinion columnist

Robin Abcarian

You may believe that you will never have an unwanted pregnancy. (However, if she does, she is lucky to live in Pennsylvania, where abortion is still legal.)

But how can you not appreciate the profound changes that Trump’s presidency inflicted on this country? If there had been no President Trump, there would be no ultraconservative majority on the Supreme Court, no Dobbs decision repealing nearly half a century of reproductive rights, no outright abortion bans in 13 states, and no suffering for people like Kate Cox of Texas , who was forced to seek abortion services in another state after the Texas Supreme Court said she could not abort her severely compromised fetus, which suffered from a condition that was incompatible with life.

In 2020, younger American voters were squarely on Biden’s side. According to exit polls, 65% of people between 18 and 24 chose him, the highest percentage of any age group. And yet, if recent national polls are to be believed, voters ages 34 and younger are increasingly disenchanted with the president. Perhaps this is a reflection of youth impatience or, worse, a fundamentally weak understanding of how government operates.

Hear what younger voters told NBC News that bothers them: the country’s slowness to reverse climate change, Biden’s failure to fully cancel student loan debt, his failure to federally codify abortion rights and, perhaps most starkly, his handling of Israel’s war against Hamas and the humanitarian crisis in Gaza.

“I mean, he made a lot of really big promises in his campaign and virtually none of them were kept,” one respondent, Austin Kapp, 25, of Colorado, told NBC News.

This hi. The president does not operate in a vacuum.

He did attempted to cancel student loan debt and managed to erase nearly $132 billion, but the right-wing Supreme Court majority blocked his plan to cancel much more.

He did attempted to codify Roe, but could not muster the 60 votes needed to overcome a filibuster by Senate Republicans.

And what has Trump been doing about abortion, other than taking credit for overturning Roe v. Wade? He is urging Republicans to mislead voters: “To win in 2024, Republicans must learn to speak appropriately about abortion,” he told a group of Iowa supporters in September. “This issue cost us unnecessarily but very dearly in the middle of the term.”

We now know, thanks to the horrific experience of Cox and other women who have filed suit in Texas, that the idea of ​​an “exception” to the abortion ban in cases of rape, incest, fetal anomalies or the health of the pregnant person it’s no big deal. more than a brilliant lie, a mirage to make abortion bans a little more acceptable to the majority of Americans who support a woman’s right to choose.

As for the Middle East crisis, even if you agree that Biden’s handling of the situation has been uneven, why would anyone think that Trump, an outspoken supporter of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, would handle it better? , particularly if your sympathies lie more with the Palestinians caught up in the violence than the Israeli government’s response to the Hamas attack of October 7?

During the election campaign, Trump has signaled a lack of engagement in the conflict, suggesting he would “let this play out.” Your only concrete suggestion from him? In an interview with Univision in November, he said Israel needed to “do a better job in public relations, frankly, because the other side is beating them on the public relations front.”

He has also promised to “revoke the student visas of radical anti-American and anti-Semitic foreigners at our colleges and universities, and we will send them directly back home.” (Muslim ban, anyone?) Does that sound like an appealing countermessage to the 70% of voters under 35 who told NBC News pollsters they disapprove of Biden’s handling of the war?

With 2024 just around the corner and the first Republican presidential primary contests scheduled for January 15 in Iowa and January 23 in New Hampshire, barring some unforeseen event, it could become clear very quickly that the much-accused Trump is destined for the November elections as a Republican presidential candidate.

A Suffolk University/USA Today poll released on New Year’s Day showed Trump leading Biden among groups that pollsters described as “stalwarts of the Democratic base,” namely Hispanics and younger voters. Biden’s support among African Americans has also declined significantly, although he still leads Trump.

This is alarming, not catastrophic. Biden and the Democrats have time to make their arguments. I remain skeptical that the Democratic base won’t come home in November, particularly as Trump continues to embrace his inner dictator on the campaign trail.

“The election of a Republican is not the end. It’s the beginning of a much bigger fight,” a 23-year-old Wisconsin Starbucks worker and union organizer told NBC News that he is considering withholding his vote for Biden. “I want to show the Democratic Party as a young person that you still need to earn our vote and if you don’t, the consequences will be your career.”

Teach the Democrats a lesson by electing an authoritarian destroyer of democracy?

My mother used to call that cutting off your nose to mess up your face.


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