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'Worth fighting for'
December 10th 07:33:24 PM

"We’ll have to take on the special interests. We’ll have to be straight with the American people. And we’ll have to fight for a secure retirement for working people when the fight gets hard – and that’s precisely what I’ll do. Because retirement security for all Americans is worth fighting for.”

So says Senator Obama, who I think deserves a lot of credit for taking on Social Security.  Obama has also done an excellent job reaching out to young voters -- just ask Jo and Evan, who camped out to see the Obama/Oprah show in NH -- and it will be a shame if his student supporters in Iowa and elsewhere don't back their candidate in the coming weeks.  I don't mean to suggest that Obama is the best candidate (S4 isn't allowed to endorse candidates), nor would I argue that Obama's plan for Social Security is the right one for the future of our country.

But I do think our generation should show appreciation for Obama's recognition that Social Security is indeed facing a crisis.  Even those who do not support Obama for president should come to the candidate's defense when, for example, he is accused of using Republican talking points in discussing Social Security's projected shortfall. 

Those who do support Obama should go even further to help their candidate.  The best way to do this, of course, is to vote in an upcoming primary or to caucus.

Let's think for a minute about what happens if Obama does not get the Democratic nomination.  First, there is a risk that pundits will ascribe the senator's failure to his willingness to address Social Security.  Given that Paul Krugman has already written about the poor strategical implications of discussing retirement security, it doesn't take much creativity to imagine an instance in which someone points to Social Security as what went wrong in the Obama campaign. 

You'll remember that people tried to do this when Santorum lost his seat in the Senate, even though most of us realized there was a bit more to the election results than that.  Particularly those of us who watched Santorum debate the issue with Casey, who sounded as though he had just heard about the New Deal.

What will be closer to the truth is if someone points out that it wasn't Social Security that hurt Obama (again, making the assumption that Obama does not get the nomination), but rather his specific plan for reform.  Considering the overwhelming support of our generation for personal retirement accounts, it is odd that Obama's plan does not include any elements of ownership or investment.

Bigger than all of this stuff about Social Security, though, is a second point that the talking heads will make if Obama is not the nominee, which is that young people don't vote.  The Wall Street Journal made this point last week, and one can only hope that the obnoxious tone they struck was purposeful. 

All of us at S4 have seen how much young people do care about the issues and how much of an impact we can make by working together, and I hope that every eligible member of our generation -- no matter which candidate he or she supports -- participates in an upcoming primary or caucus.

Posted by Ryan Lynch


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