By Sion S. Habtemariam
(written on November 16, 2012)
The re-election of President Barack Obama in November caught the attention of many Americans. Among these Americans are teens who use social networking sites as an opportunity to voice their opinions. Although tweets and status updates are unlimited; facts, in many cases are hard to find.
Some teens joke about being able to stay on food stamps now that Obama was re-elected without realizing they are playing into a crippling stereotype. Many teens influenced by parents, forms of media like FOX News, uninformed teachers, and the judgments of other teens have come to a consensus that all Obama supporters are receiving government assistance and are unemployed. Some go to the extreme to over generalize that all the Democrat party stands for is to give government hand outs to people who choose to not work. These views are not only incorrect but display the ignorance plaguing America.
Many teens are not aware of the facts behind much of America’s past. The system of welfare existed well before the Obama administration and he is not to blame for those who may take advantage of the assistance. In 1935 the Social Security Act was enacted. Most Americans were unemployed or underemployed and it was nearly impossible for people to support their families. Sound familiar?
There are many forms of welfare; about 83% of money for social programs goes to social security and Medicaid (programs that every citizen is eligible for). Many do not know what the negative impact of the getting rid of welfare would be. Those who are angry that their family pays for all “poor” Americans through the money they receive through their small businesses would soon see the sad truth that not only would completely ending welfare hurt the people directly involved, but also their business.
People also choose to forget that the burdens of middle class paying for taxes are because many richer Americans pay lower taxes. Does it make sense that 21% of millionaires face a lower tax rate than the three million individuals making between $50,000 and $100,000? The system of welfare does need regulation. But in general Conservatives are opposed to regulation as seen in the Bush administration. Imposing rules like Bill Clinton did in his administration which gave states funding for the poor, but made it necessary to help citizens move from welfare to the workplace. Enforcing this, as well as making it mandatory for all recipients to bring proof of looking for a job through applications or by other means, may help. But times like these when even college educated Americans are out of work it may take a long time for this to happen. Also a program requiring drug testing prior to receiving government assistance should also be put in place.
Americans like to believe that our system of government and the truth behind the American Dream are what differentiate us from the most of the world. But there is another aspect to what makes us unique. We have policies put in place that allows us to have lower poverty rates and allow us to actually have a middle class.
Many teens have also expressed their opinion that this generation is going to be derailed by Obama’s administration. Ask these same students about Obama’s views on funding for education and you may receive blank stares. There are those who have actually been more instrumental in the sculpting of their views and may have more to say. For many high school students their next step in education is college. Most families cannot afford tuition and most of us do not have the option to just ask our parents for money as suggested by Willard Mitt Romney. The Obama administration has repeatedly increased funding for student financial aid through the support of Pell grants. His administration has also supported funding for elementary and secondary schools. This makes it even more astonishing that some teachers who are misinforming students are actually being protected under Obama’s measures. Americans who supported Proposition 30 have faith in the next generation. This proposition stops school cuts and college tuition hikes. So students who believe that because of Obama they will not be able attend college anymore, I’m glad to inform you that you are mistaken. The Democratic Party, including President Obama, will not be to blame for this generation’s derailment. Instead it will be the students who do not exercise effort, those who use class as a time to socialize and apply make up in class instead of taking advantage of their resources who cheat themselves.
Aside from the politics, those who oppose Obama often have degrading things to say about something he could not control, his race. From the moment Barack Obama announced he would run for president, to his inauguration, and ultimately his reelection America reached a monumental point in its history. Obama becoming President made many believe that America had finally achieved the progression from racism of slavery and Jim Crow Laws. As a nation we have made strides from an oppressive nation but the battle on racism is ongoing. It’s 2012 and some people still have a hard time believing that the son of an African father and white American mother may have something to offer to America.
Students use Instagram as a canvas to display their racially charged attacks on the President of the United States. Students posted pictures with captions full of poor language that included the “N” word. On election night, various postings that discussed dissatisfaction of our two-term President would not have be complete without a regressive picture of a homemade billboard from Hanson, Massachusetts. The billboard stirred up much controversy in Massachusetts but as many as 46 Instagram users agreed with its message that “Somewhere in Kenya a village is missing its IDIOT OBAMA One Big a** Mistake America Vote Mitt Romney for 2012!” If your beliefs do not coincide with those of our President that is fine, being able to openly disapprove of our government is a unique right many countries lack. Before taking to social media sites to express your anger fuelled opinions ask yourself a few questions. Do my statements over generalize an entire group of people? Are they my own thoughts? Do my statements lack facts and express hatred?
As you express your disdain for America’s current president I challenge you to leave behind your comfortable world and see a world with children less fortunate than you. And above all I challenge you to leave behind the mindset that makes it acceptable to judge someone’s abilities and strengths by their cultural background.
About the author
Sion worked at the Registrar of Voters in San Bernardino on election night in 2012 during her senior year in high school after being chosen among some of her peers in her AP Government class. She is currently a sophomore at University of California, Irvine where she is studying Public Health and Neurology with an emphasis on Pediatrics Neurology.