Wang: Looking for a Messiah
By Ethan Wang, Staff columnist and former Opinion editor
Published on Thursday, September 20, 2012
In an attempt to relate to younger voters, Paul Ryan proclaimed at the Republican National Convention, “College graduates should not have to live out their 20s in their childhood bedrooms, staring up at fading Obama posters and wondering when they can move out and get going with life.”
Given these troubled economic times, this nightmarish prospect has no doubt crossed the minds of many students here at Dartmouth — especially my fellow ’13s. But if you believe the politicians from either party, help is on the way. On one side, you have Mitt Romney promising that once he’s president, he’ll create 12 million jobs and restore the future of young Americans who have been duped by the current president. On the other, you have Barack Obama saying that his policies are working, and with four more years, he can finally fix the disheveled mess that he inherited and get everyone working again.
In his convention speech, Romney joked about Obama’s image as some sort of messiah, promising to slow the rise of the oceans and heal the planet. But both men want people to believe that they are saviors of the economy, that they alone possess the magic formula to get the economy soaring and create millions of good, well-paying jobs. This presidential election is essentially a case of the old messiah of 2008 asking us to not lose faith in him and fighting against a new (albeit less rhetorically elegant) messiah promising he’ll do a better job. All we have to do is choose the right one, and the economy, the country and our futures will be saved.
If the 2008 elections were all about hope and change, these elections are about faith — faith that the president and the government can directly improve our futures. The prevailing rhetoric from both campaigns is that if college students, unemployed Americans and anyone else affected by the troubled economy put their futures in the hands of the right presidential candidate, then he will get us a job in the next four years.
Candidates are known to make grand promises on the stump, but no one struggling to find a job should be putting his or her blind faith in one man promising to fix his or her problems.
The economy is beyond the grasps of a mere mortal and his policies. No one has unlocked the magic formula to the government’s role in fostering economic growth. There probably isn’t one. Every day, Nobel laureate economists argue back and forth about whether there should be more regulation or less regulation, tax increases or tax cuts, more government spending or less government spending. Every economic plan seems to have some expert backing it. If there’s any fundamental truth behind all of this, it’s that there’s no surefire government plan — especially one that can pass the partisan gridlock in Washington — that can suddenly improve the economy and create millions of jobs.
Regardless of what the political talking heads say, this election shouldn’t be about jobs. There are many issues over which the president has direct control, valid issues on which to base your vote. But the economy isn’t one of them. The economy may very well turn around in the next four years, but it won’t be because of the magic hand of the president and the government. If struggling college graduates and unemployed Americans find good jobs in the next four years, it will be the result of their own hard work and perseverance, not the president’s — whoever he may be.
Romney caught a lot of flak this week by saying that 47 percent of Americans are, among other things, dependent on the government. For those who vote this November based on the notion that the man they’re choosing will deliver them from their troubles, they might as well fall into that 47 percent. Obama is not the messiah. Romney won’t be one, either. The politicians can promise all they want, but for college graduates — and everyone else seeking to improve their prospects — our futures are in our own hands.
If any of us do find ourselves living out of our childhood bedrooms sometime in the near future, it won’t be the man on the fading poster or the man trying to replace him who can liberate us. We will have to do that ourselves.