I was still riding in car seats when Ronald Reagan was President and I was just learning long division when the Republicans’ “Contract With America” hit the national spotlight, so the GOP’s “Pledge to America” had a fresh appeal to me. Americans my age graduated from college right as the economy was about to nose dive. In fact, out of my graduating class, a record number of us went straight into graduate school, taking out hefty student loans to buy some time as the economy collapsed around us. I did the same, hoping that the two-year program would be enough time for the economy to get better so I could get a job. I was convinced I was doing the right thing by beefing up my resume while the economy recovered. The economic reality is that there were not abundant opportunities awaiting us as we stepped into the real world then and it is even worse now.
My worry today, as I listen to numerous reactions to the pledge, is not about a diminished 401k, a failed home mortgage, or even saving for retirement at this point. I have to worry about making ends meet and future prospects for a career. With student loans to pay back, and health care premiums going up, the real world is a very expensive place that just doesn’t offer the dreams that it used to.
This current Administration and Congress thinks it’s helping my generation by allowing us to stay on our parents’ health insurance plan while we move back in to mom and dad’s house – through age 26. Sure that’s a help to many, but I promise you, as my colleague Hadley also we would rather have a good job and freedom to make it out in the “real world.” I think the “Pledge to America” appeals to that shared sentiment among young people.
The Pledge to America states that, “Rising joblessness, crushing debt, and a polarizing political environment are fraying the bonds among our people and blurring our sense of national purpose.” I couldn’t agree more. The pledge goes on to say, “We pledge to advance policies that promote greater liberty, wider opportunity, a robust defense, and national economic prosperity.”
This is the hope and change I would like to see! Young professionals haven’t had the rug yanked out from under them as many older Americans have. We haven’t even had the chance to stand up on the rug yet! But to give young people the opportunity to thrive, Washington needs to stop fostering such an unfriendly and unsure climate for the private sector. The pledge seems to understand this fundamental problem with Washington today so I think many young people who take the time to read the pledge (rather than just hear reports about it) will find it appealing.