by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
No, this blog entry does not address the role of Barack Obama’s parents in his life, though it would be hard to argue that his father’s parental performance merited any praise.
Instead the headline alludes to Bethany Mandel’s discussion for Commentary readers about the role of young voters’ parents in fostering their approach to political decisions.
One issue that pops up in the report several times, however, is the notion that while President Obama and his party haven’t come close to solving the major issues on the minds of young voters, namely the economy, jobs, student loan debt and, to a lesser extent, healthcare, voters were willing to give the president an “A” for effort. Soltis explains:
Despite those poor marks for Obama and the Democrats on the economy, Democrats held a 16-point advantage over the Republican Party among young voters on handling of the economy and jobs (chosen as the top issue by 37% of respondents). For those respondents who said they approved of the job Obama had been doing as president, the number one word they used? “Trying.” He was trying. Young voters were disappointed in Obama’s performance, but gave him credit for attempting to improve the situation.
Millennials seem particularly susceptible to this “participation trophy” mindset, which is one indication of the extension of certain markers of childhood well into adulthood. Yet parents are far from blameless. A recent piece in Psychology Today, entitled “A Nation of Wimps,” describes just how devastating the trendy brand of parenting known as “helicopter parenting” can be for the offspring of the most well-intentioned of parents:
The end result of cheating childhood is to extend it forever. Despite all the parental pressure, and probably because of it, kids are pushing back—in their own way. They’re taking longer to grow up. …
… The reelection of Barack Obama, however, highlights another unfortunate side-effect of parents who insist that every child, regardless of merit or achievement, receive a participation trophy. When these young people “grow up” (while they may not necessarily be adults, they are at least of voting age), they consider any effort, even with dismal planning and execution, worthy enough of a trophy–in this case, reelection.
Add this factor to those the Republican Party must keep in mind as it plans for its future.