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Young voters shouldnt fear change, but embrace it


The June 13 News-Times included a guest column, "Young Voters Should Beware of Blindly Voting for Obama," by James Shores. 

Indeed, I would add a bit to Shores's advice, by encouraging both young voters - and especially older voters - not to "blindly" vote for any candidate.

The economy is rough for young people, Shores declared, which is quite true. Since Wall Street and the big banks crashed our economy four years ago, and American corporations began wholesale "offshoring" of American industries and jobs more than 20 years ago, the economy of working people, particularly young working people, has become increasingly dismal.

But the economy of older people has not been particularly rosy, either. The Great Recession has reduced the net wealth of ordinary Americans by almost 40 percent. 

For one group of Americans, however, the economy is doing just great. Even in 2007, before the Great Recession hit, those lucky folks controlled more than 40 percent of the nation's wealth. This despite the fact they were only 1 percent of the population.

And now that the home mortgage bubble has burst, those lucky folks in the 1 percent are really sitting pretty. For being "too big to fail," they've been bailed out for their reckless and unscrupulous financial practices, even while many thousands of working Americans, presumably "too small to matter," are being forced out of their suddenly over-mortgaged homes.

Who should we elect to make things better? Shores has noted indignantly that President Obama once promised that unemployment would drop to 8 percent if  billions were poured into stimulating the economy. Political promises are notoriously undependable.

Since a President is not a king, the fulfillment of political promises requires the cooperation of both parties - and when one party has made its stated policy to "make Obama fail," even if they have to sink the national economy to do so, their own candidate's political promises seem even more undependable.

A campaign official's unfortunate comment about "shaking up the Etch-a-Sketch" comes to mind.

Our future, Shores opines, has been "mortgaged" for trillions of dollars by President Obama. The trillions of dollars so far wasted on two futile wars - a bill to be paid by our children and perhaps our grandchildren - are, presumably, President Obama's fault also. 

Shores refers forebodingly to President Obama's agenda of "fundamentally changing America." If change is bad, can we make things better by repeating the policies of the past 20 years - the policies that got us into our present financial mess? 

Speaking from the viewpoint of my own advancing age, I can testify that America has "changed fundamentally" since my own childhood.

The America of postwar days - the 1950s fondly cited in nostalgia, when one "living wage" job could support an entire family, in its own home - is long dead. It began dying as the corporations gained power and labor unions were systematically strangled.

With present workers' "real wages" stagnating or even declining, while corporate CEOs' wages have risen 250 percent or more, the Prosperous '50s are obviously long gone. 

The America of the "Founding Fathers" - many of whom were slave-owning gentleman farmers - was dying even before the Civil War put a final end to it.

The one thing we can predict is that America will change, and that the pace of change will continue accelerating. The future of America is almost beyond speculation. For instance, who could have predicted, only 30 years ago, how completely personal computers and the Internet would change America, our lives and the entire world?  

All we can say for certain is that the America which our young voters will eventually see will be greatly changed from what we see today. 

How can we shape that change, for good or for bad? By adopting new policies to meet new challenges, or by trying to repeat the policies of a past that is long gone?

Who can we elect to rebuild our economy and encourage new employment? A candidate who insists a new American prosperity must be built with new ideas or a "successful businessman" candidate (who made his fortune by dismantling American companies and sending American jobs overseas)?

Indeed, both old voters and young ones should be careful not to vote "blindly" for the candidates in this election. Nor should they allow themselves to be manipulated by fear, appeals to intolerance, simplistic slogans or malicious distortions. They should, in fact, analyze the actions and policies of both parties in regard to their own personal interests - keeping in mind the fact that any political party is a commercial enterprise, but some are more commercial than others.

Above all, they should not allow themselves to be limited to the false choice, "Do you go for the billionaire or the black guy?"

Walt Wentz lives in Forest Grove.