The Young Politica: Do the Presidential Candidates ‘Walk the Walk’ on Student Issues?

If you watched the presidential debate this past week, you probably remember Jeremy Epstein, a 20-year-old college student who attends Adelphi University. He opened up the town hall question session by asking:

“Mr. President, Governor Romney, as a 20-year-old college student, all I hear from professors, neighbors and others is that when I graduate, I will have little chance to get employment. Can — what can you say to reassure me, but more importantly my parents, that I will be able to sufficiently support myself after I graduate?”

This question is the basis of concern for many young Americans. And it correlates to other questions we have about student loans and the economy. In 2008, 51% of young voters came out to the polls and helped swing the vote. An overwhelming amount of students—68 %—voted for Barack Obama.

Now that there is some unrest on how he has handled the economy over the past four years, recognizing the student vote on both sides should be key to snagging the presidency. Here are some issues the candidates need to address:

Degree-Requiring Jobs

Most students out of college are either unemployed or work at jobs which do not need a degree. While both candidates focus on the generalization of ‘more jobs’, they are not necessarily adding more to degree-requiring jobs to the market. Romney addresses these concerns by emphasizing his administration’s take on education—bring more students to technical, vocational, and trade schools. Obama has added jobs, but they are mostly an effort to continue to emphasize his desire to return factory jobs to American workers.

Climate

There is some hope that the candidates will address climate change at the upcoming debate. The President has obviously softened on his need for environmental improvements after Solyndra’s downfall. And Romney is still mocking him for it. But neither candidate has addressed the issue directly within recent weeks.

The Youth Vote

It seems that there have been some belated efforts, but snagging a large percentage of youth votes may be too late. Unlike Barack Obama, Mitt Romney has avoided sitting down with television hosts (wish I could say the same for Ann ) and his social media presence is sub par in comparison to Obama’s. At the same token, Romney might not see benefit in the youth vote; but Obama is definitely not as hip as he was in 2008, as Paul Ryan noted.

After the town hall debate, Jeremy Epstein spoke to NBC New York to discuss the debate. He said that he made his voting decision, but kept it confidential. After the debate, Epstein spoke with both candidates:

“I asked [Romney] if he’s gonna give me that job in two years and he said ‘Maybe,'” Epstein said. “Then I was speaking with President Obama asking how his Chicago Bulls are gonna do, because they lost their MVP Derek Rose, and he said that I could not beat him in one-on-one, but I disagree with that.”

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Debate #2: Crowley Wins It, Binders of Women New Mitt Meme

Candy Crowley was the biggest winner in last night’s Town Hall for her real time fact checking on Libya. She also asked follow up questions that forced the candidates to clarify their positions. She is, however, wrong in saying that it doesn’t matter that she’s a woman. It matters a lot that other women see they can aspire to moderate a presidential debate if that is their aspiration. And I suspect having a female role model gave permission, conscious or not, to female questioners who asked about such issues as equal pay.

President Obama snatched victory from the jaws of his first debate defeat, while Mitt Romney snatched defeat from the jaws of his previous winning performance by being, well, Romney.

The optics revealed two alpha males, each determined to prevail. However, Romney’s body language was stiff and menacing, reeking of privilege, whereas Obama seemed comfortable and nonthreatening in his leadership responsibility as president and commander-in-chief.  As Keli Goff observed, Romney not only appeared on the brink of losing his cool several times, but the way he brushed off Crowley was a turn off to women whom both candidates acknowledge are key to the election.

Obama skillfully skewered Romney on the economy with his one-liner characterizing Romney’s economic policy as a “one-point-plan” and saving the 47% moment to the end after Romney set his own trap.

Rivaling his Big Bird gaffe which rapidly became a social media meme, Romney stepped into the biggest pile of goo ever with his “binders of women” comment. Meant to puff up his creds with the ladies, poor Mitt only succeeded in showing

a) he himself apparently knew no qualified women despite having been in business for decades and

b) the Democrats are accurate in saying Romney lies; it turns out he didn’t request those binders.

The binders were prepared in advance of the election by a nonpartisan women’s coalition for whomever would become governor.

This has already spawned a “Binders Full of Women” tumblr and a whole slew of Democratic fundraising appeals playing off of Romney’s amazing tone deafness with the reality of women’s lives today. (Really? Only women want to go home for dinner with their families?) My favorite is the one pointing out that there are ballots full of women we can vote for this year.

I wanted Obama to say more, lots more, about the peril to women’s reproductive rights and health should Romney win, and to make more of a point that contraceptive coverage is in fact an economic issue. But there again, Romney managed to do himself in by dancing an inauthentic two-step as he tried to satisfy his anti-birth control base with their favorite code words while not frightening off the 99% of Americans who use birth control at some time during their lives.

So we go into the final debate with a tie score, each candidate having won one and lost one. The last lap of this election promises to continue to be a see-saw. Every vote cast will make a difference.

This post originally appeared in response to a Politico Arena question. Find the original publication here.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

The Young Politica: What Each Presidential Candidate Has to Offer You

Researching candidates is key when deciding who you will vote for in the 2012 presidential election. However, deciphering fact from opinion about how they would lead the country on major issues can be overwhelming—especially for a first-time voter.

As I have mentioned in previous columns, our demographic (college-aged females) plays a pivotal role in this election. Our choice, come November, has the power to determine how much we owe after college, who we can marry, and how long we can stay on our parents’ insurance plan.

So what can the two major presidential candidates, Mitt Romney and Barack Obama, offer us? Here are just a few key points in the election that concern our demographic.

Debt:

“When President Obama took office, he both addressed the immediate economic crisis and laid the foundation for a U.S. economy that’s built to last.”

Obama is sticking with his guns, claiming that the last four years were the foundation for what’s to come. His economic highlights include: implementing the stimulus package early in his administration, his attempted revival of this country’s automobile industry, and his administration’s alleged creation of 4.5 million private-sector jobs.

His plan seeks to reduce taxes, spending, regulation, and government programs. It seeks to increase trade, energy production, human capital, and labor flexibility. It relinquishes power to the states instead of claiming to have the solution to every problem.”

Much of—arguably most of—Mitt Romney’s presidential campaign focuses on the state of the nation’s pit of debt and how he can get us out of it. The debt calculator at the Republican National Convention, which hit $16 trillion at the event, said it all.

Some of his economic highlights: replacing Obamacare (the Affordable Care Act) with a plan that places more power back into the hands of private insurers, as well as downsizing U.S. entitlement programs such as Medicare and Medicaid and overall government spending.

‘Obamacare’ vs. Romney’s proposed health plan:

The Affordable Care Act (a.k.a. Obamacare), was implemented to guarantee that all Americans have health insurance by the year 2014—federal or otherwise. It allows for children up to the age of 26 to be covered by their parents’ insurance. It has been criticized for giving too much federal control over personal health decisions. Obamacare will also require that all U.S. citizens without health insurance by the year 2014 to be fined annually.

Romney has variously said he will repeal Obamacare and that he will keep some parts like insuring those with preexisting conditions. The Romney campaign criticizes Obamacare for being too “one size fits all” with healthcare. The GOP sees a competitive private insurance market as a way to allow a consumer to choose what they want covered.

Women’s Health:

Under Obamacare, women can receive free STD screenings, mammograms, and FDA-approved contraception as long as they don’t work in a faith-based organization that disapproves funding its employees’ birth control.

Obama also supported the Roe vs. Wade decision that declared “government should not intrude with family matters” and legalized abortion. However, if currently insured by Medicaid, abortion cannot be covered unless the state in which one lives decides to cover it in cases where the pregnancy was conceived during incest or rape.

Also, during his 2008 campaign, the President promised to support the Freedom of Choice Act, which states that it’s a woman’s fundamental right to choose to bear child—a promise he has not kept.

Under Romney’s healthcare plan, free cancer screenings and birth control will not be available. However, there has yet to be a definitive platform on invasive ultrasound by the Romney team.

Despite Todd Akin’s comments, the prospective Romney administration approves of abortion in the cases of the endangerment of the mother’s life, rape, or incest. The consensus of conservative GOP-ers is to overturn Roe vs. Wade.

Clearly, there will be no federal coverage of abortion.

Higher Education:

Democrats view federal student aid as a way to ‘invest in our country’s future’—thus, they’ve attempted to provide enough student aid for successful students. The Obama administration has also tried to make it easier for college students to pay off their debt, by simplifying payment plans.

But as mentioned before, the ‘investment’ doesn’t always pay off. There are many students who leave college with debt who cannot find a job, and therefore cannot pay off their loans.

Student debt also contributes to our national debt, both of which have increased exponentially over the past ten years.

The Romney camp is pushing for low-cost alternatives to be explored and promoted in order to limit government spending on student loans. Among the alternatives: extended community colleges and technical institutions, and online education.

If these alternative institutions are not improved, this may limit the educational possibilities for students who cannot finance their education to attend top-tier universities. This may in turn affect the intellectual capabilities of our future workforce.

Also, the GOP believes that the government “should not be in the business of originating student loans” and it will not boost Pell Grants.

Marriage Equality:

The Obama administration provides all federal employees, gay or straight, with the same spousal benefits. His administration also repealed “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell.”

While civil unions and same sex marriage is approved in a handful of states, it is not recognized by the federal government.

Mitt Romney claims that he wants to “defend marriage, not redefine it.” He opposes gay marriage and civil unions.

I hope you use this information to your advantage this November—and no matter who you think should take office, get out and vote.

Only 55% of us Young Politicas voted last election. Let’s make 2012 our year.

 

 

Maegan Vazquez, a Texas born sophomore at New York University, brings her young woman’s lens on all things political to Heartfeldt Blog every Monday. Send news tips to maeganvaz@gmail.com

Did ‘Mom-in-chief’ Michelle make her case for Barack?

Michelle Obama’s speech at the Democratic National convention last night was brilliant rhetorically and substantively. It was delivered with the passion of someone speaking her truth, the spark of a woman deeply in love, and the skill of a lawyer who knows how to build an arc of persuasion.

There was no ridiculous “I love you women!” moment in Michelle’s speech. There didn’t need to be because she actually communicated with women how her husband’s policies—from equal pay to reproductive rights—demonstrate that he respects and values them.

When Michelle said of Barack, “Being president doesn’t change who you are; it reveals who you are,” she drove the ball straight home with voters. And she touched the hearts as well as minds of anyone watching.

The purpose of a presidential candidate wife’s speech is to humanize her husband. In the end, it was the humanity of Michelle’s stories and personal reflections that connected most viscerally with the audience. She brought them (and me, hardened as I am to political speeches) to tears and to their feet. For a shining moment, she brought back the aspirational hope and change that her husband promised and that had lifted Americans to our higher selves in 2008, and lifted him into the Oval office.

Paradoxically, though I felt she went a little heavy on her her “mom-in-chief” self- identification, her declaration, “Doing the impossible is the story of this nation,” is one of the strongest leadership lines ever uttered in a political speech.

Or maybe it wasn’t such a paradox after all. Being mom-in-chief is pretty good preparation for political office. I was left to wonder: why aren’t we running Michelle for president?

 

 

An excerpt from this article ran in the Politico Arena where the question “Did Mrs. Obama make a solid case for her husband’s reelection?” was asked. Here is a link to my response to the Arena question.

 

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Is Trump a liability for Mitt Romney?

Politico Arena Asks:

Billionaire Donald Trump will join Mitt Romney tonight at a fundraiser in Las Vegas. The appearance comes just five days after the real estate developer aimed to re-ignite the debate about President Obama’s birthplace.

Tonight’s appearance could pose some political risk to Romney, political experts predict.  Obama released his long-form birth certificate last year, which showed his birthplace to be Honolulu, Hawaii.

Is it worth the money for Romney to associate himself with a birther? Will this help or hurt Romney’s campaign?

My Response:

Any right winger, however wacky or outrageous, who aligns with Romney will bring in some votes. And as to the money Trump might bring, Romney has already shown what he is. He’s just trying to get the best price.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

If You Don’t Sing Your Own Song, Who Will?

Analyzing gas prices isn’t usually my beat, but media messaging is. Is failure to talk about declining prices at the pump smart or self-defeating for Obama?

Politico Arena Asks:

Gas prices are expected to hit a two-year low this Memorial Day weekend, averaging around $3.66 a gallon, the Christian Science Monitor reports.

Some energy analysts believe prices could continue to drop through the summer months. The falling prices take away a key piece of the GOP’s platform against President Obama – however, the White House has been relatively quiet about the price drop and a recent AP-GfK poll showed the majority of Americans still disapprove of Obama’s handling of gas prices.

Will the dropping gas prices help Obama’s reelection chances – and should the White House work harder to highlight the decrease?  Or will voters still be wary of Obama’s economic performance?

My Response:

People are quick to squawk when they feel the pinch in their pocketbooks, but rarely give credit when the pain goes away-unless leaders and/or media create a pervasive narrative about it.  Perhaps the Obama administration is refraining from crowing about the price drop because they anticipate a rise in price that would cause pre-election squawks next fall.

Whatever the reason, it’s a mistake. They should tell a positive story and take the credit if they want falling gas prices to benefit his reelection.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Does Newsweek’s Cover Help or Hurt Obama?

If the fastest way to self esteem is to stand up for what you believe, President Obama is standing tall this week–even though it has taken a long “evolution” to stand up for marriage equality. What do you think? Will it help or hurt his reelection prospects?

Politico Arena asks:

The newest issue of Newsweek Magazine has declared President Obama “The First Gay President.”  The cover features a photo of Obama with a rainbow-colored halo around his head.  The cover comes less than a week after Obama voiced his support for gay marriage.

Does this portrayal help or hurt Obama’s re-election chances?

My Response:

As gay rights leader John Aravosis says in an op ed about President Obama’s declaration of support for same sex marriage, “The president who seemed almost afraid of change became an agent of change. The man we voted for was finally back.”

For the most part, what voters want to see is a strong leader who says what he means and means what he says. Polls are showing that this stance might even help, as Aravosis observes, to reenergize Obama’s base which has been discouraged by his penchant for appeasing Republicans on so many issues. A Pew Research poll (PDF) found 49 percent of whites surveyed and 68 percent of African-Americans said the president’s embrace of marriage equality did not change their opinion of him. And in both groups, more who changed said they moved to a better opinion than worse.

Whether the decision was from conviction or political shrewdness, Obama really didn’t have a choice, based on where public opinion and his Democratic base are.  And when it comes to the realpolitik of the looming general election, the size and fierceness of gay activists easily matches that of the far right homophobes. Both will be organizing and mobilizing like crazy. And this might just be one instance where truth, justice, and the American way of fairness for all will prevail.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Why are Biden and Obama “Evolving” on Gay Marriage?

Politico Arena Asks:

Education Secretary Arne Duncan says he supports gay marriage, following Vice President Joe Biden’s statement Sunday on “Meet the Press” that he is “comfortable” with it. President Barack Obama has not voiced support for gay marriage, instead backing civil unions, though he has maintained for over a year that his views are “evolving.”

Has the President’s hand been forced on the issue so he’ll have to declare his position one way or another? Or would backing gay marriage now make it look like he caved into Democratic pressure groups?

My Response:

It’s the job of advocates to make it impossible for politicians not to do the right thing. Biden knows what the right thing is, as does Obama . And now they’re being forced to “evolve.”

Linda Hirshman, in her upcoming book Victory: The Triumphant Gay Revolution, (Harper/Collins) due out on June 5 (www.gayvictorybook.com), explains exactly what’s going on in political terms:

“Why is this happening? Gays are at most a small percentage of the population. Support for same sex marriage just outpolled opposition within the last year. Wasn’t it supposed to be the economy, stupid?

“Biden unwittingly revealed the answer when explaining why he was in favor of marriage. He knew so many people, he said, and saw what it meant to them and to their children. He told a story of attending a fundraiser at the home of a gay couple and how impressed he was with the way they were raising their children. Even amongst Republicans, as Grenfell’s appointment reflects, gays are out and in too great numbers for the issue to be swept into the closet once again.”

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Indies leaning toward Obama or Romney?

It’s way too soon to tell which way independent voters will swing. But net out the contributing factors and it’s clear the results depend on many volatile factors. That chaos gives advocacy groups tremendous opportunity to influence the outcome. What’s your prediction?

Politico Arena Asks:

A new POLITICO/George Washington University Battleground Poll finds a dead heat in the presidential race six months before the election. Mitt Romney edges out President Obama 48 percent to 47 percent among likely voters. And the president’s job approval rating stands at 48 percent, down five points from February and a number now equal to the amount of people who disapprove of Obama’s performance.

Six months out from the election, do these numbers suggest Romney can exploit the president’s perceived weaknesses? Or do the poll results offer reasons for optimism to the Obama campaign?

My Response:

The economy is trending upward. Advantage Obama.

The economy is trending upward slowly.  Advantage Romney 

Republicans are waging war on women, angering independent women who are key swing voters. Advantage Obama

Democrats fail to deliver economic and reproductive justice yet take women voters for granted. Advantage Romney.

Killed Bin Laden. Advantage Obama.

Job numbers have not risen fully from the dead. Advantage Romney.

Likeability. Advantage Obama 

Citizens United. Advantage Romney.

Net net: independents continue to be key to the election. But the vote could swing either way depending on myriad factors. Ask this question November 1 and get a more meaningful answer.

 


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.

Hilary Rosen v Ann Romney: Will Mitt Benefit?

Resisting the cheap thrill of calling this the “War Between Women,” I nevertheless think this dustup pitting two views of modern womanhood against one another is worth acknowledging. Do you think Rosen was right in what she said?

Politico Arena asks:

During an appearance on CNN Wednesday night, Democratic commentator Hilary Rosen questioned whether Ann Romney was qualified to be talking about women’s economic issues since she’s “never worked a day in her life.”

On Twitter @AnnDRomney responded: “I made a choice to stay home and raise five boys. Believe me, it was hard work.”

Do Rosen’s comments advance the Democratic narrative of a GOP “war on women”?

Or is it a mean-spirted attack on Mitt Romney’s wife of 42 years that’s like to backfire on the Obama campaign and fellow Democrats? http://politi.co/HBRdyo

My Response:

Rosen’s words about Ann Romney were ill-chosen, unkind, and aggravate a festering boil even among women in the paid workplace who are struggling to balance work and family responsibilities. It’s not as though stay-at-home moms have no brains with which to consider economic issues.

That said, Rosen’s concerns about Ann Romney would have rung both accurate and true had she stated them differently. Romney had the luxury to stay home with her boys because of her privileged position as the wife of a man who has been wealthy all his life. For most women, paid employment isn’t a choice, it’s an economic necessity. But that’s not the only reason women work. It’s fulfilling to use one’s gifts to contribute to society both within and outside of the home. And it’s fulfilling to earn a paycheck—a fair paycheck.

With Equal Pay Day—the date in April when women across America are reminded of the 23% pay gap between them and men doing the same work—looming, Mitt Romney’s wildly inaccurate allegations about Obama causing women’s job losses, and his party’s 18% gender gap in key swing states because of their War on Women’s bodies and economic lives, the Republican standard bearer has a lot more to worry about than what Hilary Rosen is saying about his wife.

For the same reasons that her husband comes across as a man out-of-touch with working families since he grew up and remains wealthy beyond most people’s wildest expectations, Ann Romney—who undoubtedly had far more household help raising those five boys than most Americans can even imagine—can’t hide behind the “it took a lot of work” excuse to justify relinquishing whatever career aspirations she might have had as a young woman. She was able to maintain her no-longer-traditional role of wife as helpmeet in charge of child rearing only because she married a 1%’er.


Gloria Feldt is the author of No Excuses: 9 Ways Women Can Change How We Think About Power. Buy the book here. Engage Gloria for a Speech or Workshop. Tweet @GloriaFeldt and connect on Facebook, LinkedIn, and Google+ Gloria is the co-founder (with Amy Litzenberger) of Take the Lead, a new initiative to prepare and propel women to leadership parity by 2025. Find them @takeleadwomen and on Facebook.