Monday, June 20, 2011

Young Voters Look at Issues and Not at Politician or Party

In my role of CEO of Last Stand for Children First, I've found myself at the center of several political firestorms recently.   People don't understand how we can support 18 separate bills in various state legislatures outlawing collective bargaining while being for protecting collective bargaining rights.  With battle lines clearly drawn, I'm reminded of the old Bob Seger song, "Which Side Are You On?"

The answer is I'm not on either side.  I'm part of a new generation of young philanthropists whose beliefs cannot be limited to the political platform of one party or one governor. On some issues, we're "conservative." On others, we're "liberal." Personally, I disagree with New York's Governor Cuomo on several important issues, but I salute him for ending the dreaded "millionaires tax" once and for all.  Likewise, I'm disturbed to see Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker target my beloved craft beers, but I applaud him on standing up to lazy teachers.

If I told you that there was a politician that would turn a backwards agrarian society into an industrial country and a superpower.  He would allow peasants to get an education and he would help defeat the greatest evil the world has ever known, you'd probably be thinking this is a great man.   What if I told you his name was Joseph Stalin?  You did not have to be a member of the Black Shirts to applaud Mussolini for getting the trains to run on time.   This reminds me of a poem:

First they came for the Communists, and I didn't speak because they cut taxes.
Then they came for the trade unionists, and I didn't speak because they gave me free broadband.
Then they came for the Jews, and I didn't speak out because they gave me a flat screen TV.
Then they came for me, and I didn't mind so much because I had low taxes, free broadband, and a flat screen TV.
Let's be honest: politicians are unlikely to ever represent our opinion on every issue. But let's not let political divisions keep us from supporting politicians on the issues in which we do agree, like reforming public education in Ohio. For young Democrats today, supporting a Republican lawmaker (or vice versa) on education reform does not make him or her a sellout. There is absolutely no corporate agenda at work and no attempt to crush unions.  Standing up against these kind of policies doesn't make you a liberal, it makes you paranoid.  At times like these, corporations can be our greatest allies in the push for reform.

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