Young Voters Speak Out: Each day, RR.com will spotlight politically minded youth writers from throughout the U.S. speaking their minds on Election 2012. First-time voters, student journalists and new graduates will debate the Obama vs. Romney race to the White House. Young Democrats, Republicans and ‘Undecided’ Americans are eager to play politics and choose the next Commander & Chief.
Read A. W. Strouse's thoughts from a left-leaning perspective:
For the first time since the 1960s, progressives are poised to meaningfully affect national politics. Already, Occupy Wall Street has gained in momentum and reputation, and the movement has been immensely successful --- at changing the discourse, at creating state-level policy changes, at helping people save their homes. By occupying the Democratic Convention this September, OWS can push the Democratic Party away from its policies of appeasement and mediocrity and toward a truly democratic-socialist platform. To do so, however, requires that OWS and others on the left take up a somewhat complicated posture toward President Obama: we must insist that he do more to push a real, leftist agenda, but we ultimately need to vote for him.
As someone who has worked as a labor activist, I've experienced firsthand how political change is only accomplished by this kind of double movement: we must have a clear vision and a strong set of principles, as well as a willingness to put the fear of god into our opponents; but, at the end of the day, politics requires compromise. It is this combination of idealism and pragmatism that, four years ago, seemed to be the promise of an Obama administration.
But the President has delivered more pragmatism than idealism, and his willingness to be steamrolled by the Republicans has insulted his base. Obama led us to believe that he would close Guantanamo, campaign for single-payer healthcare, and create a sensible tax policy. Despite these disappointments, we cannot forget that he represents a stark contrast to the regressive forces of the far right. These forces have put the President, and the Democrats, into the unenviable position of having to negotiate with extortionists --- people who would gladly bring our country to the very brink sooner than they would give an inch.
In order to fully "grow up" as a movement, Occupiers need to look at this situation maturely, which means seeing that Obama needs our help. He needs us to shore up his bargaining position by pushing him back to the left. Grassroots pressure from OWS and other activists --- to the same degree that leftists put pressure on the Democrats in 1968 --- is the only means by which we can remind Obama who elected him in the first place and to whom he ought to owe his loyalty. But the stakes are too high to play chicken with the Republicans. We need to protest as hard as we can, and then make sure to get out the vote.