Friends without Benefits: How Obama lost the Millenials over health care

Dislike: High-tech youth begin to tune out Obama on health care Photo: (AP)

WASHINGTON, December 7, 2013 — Millennials are an interesting breed, and they are the talk of the nation right now. High-tech, highly independent and all born between the early 1980s and the early 2000s, they are quite possibly the most sought-after group of consumers.

They are a get-it-done, take-no-prisoners, ask-no-questions sort of group. They are an entire generation of latchkey kids who became accustomed to letting themselves in after school while their mothers were putting in long hours attempting to break the glass ceiling at the law firm, or as entrepreneurs out starting their businesses, and chances are their kids are now, too.

Libertarian in spirit, Millennials don’t take kindly to taking orders – whether laws banning smoking pot or anything else that would commit them to conform to the norms of society. After all, this is the generation that coined the phrase, “friends with benefits,” a situation in which one finds oneself giving all of one’s self yet tied down to nothing, all at the same time.

Millennials attended grammar school in an era where there was a computer on every desk (not unlike our grandparents’ “chicken in every pot”), and statistics show this online user base spends an average of mere seconds on a website before deciding whether to move on to something better.

Therefore, it stands to reason that Millennials are uber-turned off by the fact that President Obama could not quite get his website to work.

And who can blame them.

Millennials were lured in to the shiny, high-tech world of the Barack Obama for President campaign in 2008, in which text-message alerts were the main mode of communication. This was perfect for Millennials who, in reality, don’t actually like to speak to other human beings.

Just five short years later, those same Millennials are finding out the hard way that campaign promises don’t always equal government action. What’s worse, through White House press conferences and Congressional hearings, they are being force-fed droning explanations of why the Obamacare website was never quite ready for prime time.

The loss of Millennials is a significant problem for Obama, and for the Democrat Party.

With its roots as a mostly entry-level staffed entity where young people could cut their teeth on political campaigns, Organizing for Action (OFA) started out as the organizing arm of the Democratic National Committee (DNC) in the 2008 election cycle. It then became Organizing for America (OFA) after President Obama’s inauguration in 2009 and has since been re-named to the former Organizing for Action (OFA) moniker after his second inauguration.

Instrumental in the early days of his Presidency in 2009, the youth at OFA once delivered more than 300,000 phone bank calls to push Obama’s healthcare mandate.

But now with failed promises and “too many words” (a direct quote from my informal Millennial focus group in a bar last weekend), Millennials have decided to ditch politics altogether and get back to their lives texting, Tweeting, Instagramming, and leave the dirty business of governing to the older folks with navy blue suits and bulbous gin noses who seem to enjoy it so much.

For Barack Obama this is a problem for the near-term, primarily because his team telegraphed earlier this year that they would be relying heavily upon OFA to have a presence on the ground, to help push the legislative agenda that would support his second term.

For the Democrat Party, the flight of the Millennials poses an even greater, longer-term problem: lack of free or low-cost campaign labor for the next Presidential election cycle in 2016.

Some suggest that if the Obama Administration can get the Obamacare website back on track before Christmas, they can salvage the damage. Perhaps the older generation will give it a second look, but not Millennials.

President Obama has been “blocked,” so to speak.

Many Millennials are now being left with no health benefits, many of them losing their healthcare under their parents’ policies – and that, coupled with a consistently terrible job market for college graduates since the recession began in 2007, makes it hard-pressed to find a job, let alone healthcare.

With this generation already tuning out, it will be nearly impossible to get Millennials re-engaged in the process until perhaps the next rock star appears on the scene in 2016. Until then, don’t count on it.

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Jennifer Kerns


Jennifer Kerns is a writer/journalist and a GOP Media Strategist in the Western States region. She has served as Spokeswoman for the first-ever Colorado Recall elections, defeating the Democratic National Committee and New York mayor Michael Bloomberg’s Mayors against Illegal Guns (MAIG) PAC in a battleground state.  She previously served as Spokeswoman for the California Republican Party, a political appointee of Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, and the Spokeswoman for the historic Prop. 8 campaign.  An aggressive communicator, she strongly advocates that conservatives work proactively with the Media, and she is the only Republican Press Secretary to have ever won 52 unanimous newspaper endorsements for her candidates including liberal publications such as The San Francisco ChronicleThe Los Angeles Times, and the Spanish-language La Opinion.

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