It is compelling for me that those ages 18-24 constitute 24 percent of eligible voters. Clocking in at 46 million strong, we are one of the largest constituencies in the country. As a basic number, we are more numerous than seniors (39 million), Latinos (21.5 million), and just about every other voting bloc. However, we have some of the lowest voter turnout.
No other constituency of 46 million voters works at such a high rate of minimum wage jobs (in 2011 49.5 percent of those 16-24 worked at or below minimum wage), with the fewest benefits (in 2008 and 2009 almost 40 percent of those 18-30 had no insurance), and represents the average member of our military (the average age of our armed forces is 29.7) and received such little representation in government.
That changed in 2008 when 24 million of us voted, catapulting President Obama and the Democratic Party to a landslide victory over John McCain. Our numbers flipped states like North Carolina, Virginia, Colorado and New Mexico in President Obama's favor and fundamentally changed the electoral landscape for years to come.
When we elected President Obama, the greatest ally that young Americans have ever known entered the White House and the Democratic Party became the party to lead America throughout the 21st Century. Democrats understand that women deserve equal pay for equal work, student loans are far too costly (Obama paid his off around 2004, the same year he became a U.S. senator), predatory credit card practices threaten students' financial security and people like my partner and I deserve to be treated fairly.
As evidence of Democrats' commitment to youth, please see the following list of actions for your reasons to vote "D" on Nov. 6. Remember, as when driving, the D is for drive forward and the R is for reverse:
The very first bill Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law was the Lily Ledbetter Fair Pay Act to move forward the promise of equal pay for equal work.
A bipartisan coalition passed and President Obama signed the CARD Act, which prohibits credit card recruitment on campus and predatory reward schemes aimed at cash-strapped students like myself. After signing up for a credit card in college, I learned the hard way that bailouts aren't as easy as the banks get them. (Thanks, Mom!)
Democrats passed and President Obama signed into law major student loan reform to move forward the promise of an affordable education. This legislation doubled funding for Pell Grants, capped income-based repayment at 10 percent, and now anyone who enters public service can have all loan debt forgiven, so long as they pay their bill on time for 10 years.
Democrats passed and President Obama signed Obamacare, which allows students to stay on our parents' insurance until 26 (particularly good for returned missionaries who start school later) and guarantees that our premiums will cover contraception and other family planning services to move forward the idea that your family and education aren't mutually exclusive.
Democrats (with the help of several Republicans) lead the charge to repeal "don't ask, don't tell," and pave the way forward for countless of my friends to be present at their partner's military graduation.
The choice is clear for all young Americans. Let's re-elect President Barack Obama and move our country forward.
Turner C. Bitton is the president of the Weber State College Democrats and vice chair of the Utah Federation of College Democrats. He lives in Ogden with his partner Christian and can be reached at: www.weberdemocrats.org