Young love is fickle. The great love affair between young Americans and the president is about to come to an end. While the 2008 election was like the rush of hormones and giddiness that accompanies new romance, the 2012 election was more like that phase of a relationship where one person says to the other, “It’s not that I don’t love you, it’s just that I’m not IN love with you.”
Yet President Obama still won millennials’ vote in 2012 because codependence is part of the college experience. The passion was gone, but they were needy and insecure. That said, it’s clear that the romance is over and the break-up inevitable.
Here are five indications it’s time to break the cycle of codependence and move on.
1. The Thrill Is Gone
Candidate Obama was a novelty when he ran as a modern, bi-racial incarnation of JFK. There was a mysticism about him that made him transcendent. His life’s story was somewhat bohemian. He was intellectual in discourse. He was cool under pressure. Millennials thought he was like that guy on campus who was “different than the other guys.” His freshness made him attractive.
Now that you have gotten used to him, the novelty has worn off. It’s okay. Like a lot of young romances, it turns out this guy wasn’t all that different after all. He’s just another smooth-talker, like all the rest. All style and no substance.
You wonder what you saw in him in the first place.
2. He Just Doesn’t Understand You
There’s nothing like falling in love. The other person is a blank slate as you try to figure out who they are and you project onto them who you want them to be. After you get to know them, however, reality never lives up to fantasy.
Presidents experience the same “honeymoon” effect when they come off the campaign trail. The problem starts when they stop courting us and start trying to control us. Any political scientist will tell you that the moment a president starts to govern is the moment his public opinion rating starts to drop. In making decisions they alienate some portion of their supporters.
This happened quickly to Obama on Gitmo, Afghanistan, and drones. You and your friends feel that way now on health care. For all the environmentalists who hated George W. Bush, Obama has not only ignored the movement but he wanted to dump Syrian chemical weapons into the ocean. And gun control has gone nowhere.
It was fun to fantasize about a future together, but once you started making plans for a life together you discovered you didn’t really have that much in common. It was disappointing and confusing. You tried to make the best of it, but the honeymoon is over. You didn’t change. He did. It’s time for a little space.
3. He Was Cheap
No one likes a cheap date. Candidate Obama promised you romantic, springtime trips to Paris, Spain in the summer, and New England in the fall. All for free.
You learned the hard way that nothing in life is free. Obamacare was designed to stick the cost of healthcare to healthy young people like you in order to subsidize the costs for older, less healthy people. You learned about things like “monthly premiums” and “deductibles.” He lied about letting you keep your existing insurance. In short, Obama invited you to a fancy dinner and then asked you to split the check. You feel used.
With less than a year left to go, Obama better come up with some free stuff fast, or else he’ll lose you forever. How about forgiving your student loans?
4. He Was a Player
Candidate Obama won the election in 2008 by tapping into social media, still in its relative infancy. The approach was highly successful with young voters like you and gave Obama the veneer of being a hip, tech-savvy president.
The colossal failure of the healthcare.gov website unnerved you, and undid much of his status as a tech wizard. Granted, it’s not like he was the one programming the website, but it happened on his watch under the signature program that bears his name. This is something that should have happened to an old, uncool guy, not Obama.
Maybe Obama’s much vaunted fascination with his Blackberry during the 2008 campaign, which you found so endearing, was not an indication of his hipness after all. Maybe he just didn’t know how to use an iPhone.
5. You Grew Apart
Time takes its toll on every relationship. Although you enthusiastically embraced candidate Obama in 2008, you are older and wiser now. You were only18 in 2008, but are just a few years from hitting 30 now. Many of your friends are unemployed and in debt. The economy has not recovered much. You didn’t get a bunch of stuff for free. And, frankly, you’re a little ticked off.
These were the best years of your life. Right now you’d trade all that hope and change for a job and a future. Watching the president eat snow cones in Hawaii, play endless rounds of golf, and speak platitudes about “stopping the rise of the oceans” was endearing at first. Now it just makes you mad.
Don’t kick yourself too hard. Part of life is making mistakes and learning from them. Obama was an attractive candidate. And you were young.