Don’t vote for President Obama.

As a candidate, he promised “to be a President … who would ensure that [your] generation … had the same chances and the same opportunities that our parents gave us.” Thus, no fewer than 23.4 million 18-29 year-olds went to the ballot box in 2008, constituting the highest turnout of young voters in modern presidential history. Millenials formed about 18 percent of the electorate in 2008, and Obama won this group by an astounding 34 percentage points. Much credit for this landslide goes to Obama’s inspirational message of change that resonated with young voters, even those who thoroughly detested the rough-and-tumble world of politics.

Reality, however, has decimated Obama’s grand ideas to smithereens. Joblessness among 18-29 year-olds is at its highest level since the end of World War II. Once interpreted by youth as a promise to transform no less than the fabric and soul of the country, Obama’s message has fallen flat, and remains lifeless in a critical time in America’s history. In 2008, Obama was a not-yet-one-term Senator who waxed sentimental generalities instead of strong economic policy proposals. With prudence and skepticism, youth should have refused Obama’s cajoling then. They should especially reject it now, when the specter of even more troubling days lies ahead.

Obama readily accepted the votes of America’s youth who are pining for a charismatic leader, but he has done little to assure them that their future looks brighter. Obama didn’t cause America’s economic and budget problems, but his policies have undoubtedly worsened them.

The most recent Congressional Budget Office report projects that unemployment will climb to nearly 9% by election time, refuting claims of robust recovery from the administration. The overall youth unemployment rate is currently 17.4%23.2 percent of 16-19 year-olds in the labor force do not have jobs. Well-established is the fact that an extended period of inactivity during early adulthood risks making these individuals unemployable, even in the distant future. Young people generally provide cheaper labor than older workers. However, older, more experienced workers who can’t find higher-paying jobs are replacing youth in many entry-level positions. Additionally, in 2011, due to an increasingly depressing economy, 85 percent of graduates moved back home after college.

Arguably even more destructive, average graduating student debt has reached a record-breaking $26,300. Student loan debt has rapidly surpassed credit card debt, nearing $1 trillion. Student loans, much like the floundering housing market, revolved around a poorly regulated government-sponsored institution: Sallie Mae. Lenient lending standards and easily-accessible, government-backed credit sparked a sustained and rapid increase in tuition prices. But, by ensuring the provision of higher levels of federally backed student loans, the White House has essentially incentivized continued tuition increases, demoralizing the state of higher education.

Students should worry. This election, after all, seems to have greater implications for them than is typical. According to the most recent Harvard Institute of Politics poll, just 32% of 18-29 year-olds approve of Obama’s handling of the economy. Most indicative of the contours of youth opinion, however, is that at the time of his January 2009 inauguration, Obama’s general approval rating among youth was 75%, but today it has fallen to 55%.

Many youth have come around to recognizing the pitfalls of continued government expansion. In spite of these numbers, Obama has stubbornly continued on the path of spending tax-payer dollars aimlessly, demanding more debt-ceiling increases, and by avoiding the politically painful issue of entitlement reform, kicking the can down the road.

If we truly want to confront the country’s core problems, here’s what we should do instead: 1) Reform the tax code by instituting low, stable rates and phasing out loopholes and deductions that primarily benefit the well-off 2) Reduce regulatory uncertainty for employers by repealing the Affordable Care Act, whose regulations pressured businesses into increasing the average annual premium for family coverage by 9% in 2011, and by 2014, will increase the cost another 9.4%, all according to Medicare’s actuaries 3) Reduce the severity of the debt crisis by actually dealing with with our long-term unfunded liabilities, thereby preventing our entitlement programs from going bankrupt and putting America on a path to pay off its debt. Republicans have bought into these ideas, and with the support of voters in November, will make a more serious effort to implement these policies than Democrats.

Obama has failed students. Yet, in November, after he officially began his reelection campaign, he penned a vote-buying charade of an op-ed in college newspapers around the country, merely calling for lower tuition and more loan forgiveness instead of proposing a serious plan. Further, only when his reelection began to appear threatened did Obama put forth a youth jobs initiative—that too, one marauding as substantive policy under the pretense of providing “career enhancements” and “job shadowing opportunities.” Obama’s primary goal now is not to help students. Instead, his top priority is to mobilize unsuspecting young Americans in the hopes of once again securing crucial votes through clever promises and short-term bribes.

After doing little for students and their future over the past three years, Obama is coming after their vote. They shouldn’t give it to him. A vote for Obama is no longer a recipe for change. It’s an assurance for more of the same: historic economic problems and an erosion of global confidence in America’s stewardship.

Raj Kannappan :: Cornell University :: Ithaca, New York :: @RajKannappan