I remember as a young child clinging to my father’s hand as we made our way through the packed Fourth of July parade in my hometown. I was enthralled by the brightly colored floats and noisy fireworks, but as I grew up, this celebration became something much more. I came to learn that the annual event was not just an excuse to grill and run from my brother as he chased me with roman candles; it was a celebration of our nation’s heritage and character. My heart swelled with pride in my nation as I learned about the brave sacrifices of my ancestors and the strides America has made in preserving freedom all over the world. In my young eyes, America was a land of hope, freedom, and endless possibilities.

Now that I am 21, my youthful idealism has faded. I’ve come to realize that while America is still the last sanctuary on earth for freedom and her people are still virtuous, I’m uneasy about the future I see before me. I see a nation where the job market is depressed for people my age and where liberty fades more every day. I’ve come to realize that is no longer my America. Our nation is slowly morphing, rather, into Obama’s America and I don’t see that as a hopeful trend.

College graduation is supposed to be a time of joy; a time to start a new chapter in your life. However, that likely won’t always be the case for me and many of my peers who will enter the job market in 2013. Frankly, I’m somewhat afraid of what the future holds for us. Sure, job hunting is not supposed to be easy. However, today’s job market is smaller than ever and the economy is uncertain. Entrepreneurs are hesitant to take risks and the job market does not seem likely to grow in the near future. Barack Obama has presided over the slowest economic recovery since the Great Depression. Of course the economy was already struggling when he entered office, but President Obama has done nothing but worsen the economic decline with false promises and failed policies. The unemployment rate is roughly 16.8% for Americans ages 18-29 and half of college graduates from the last 5 years are out of work. That doesn’t even completely cover damage that will be caused by Obama’s sacred cow, Obamacare. Now that millions of Americans will flood the healthcare system in 2014, someone’s going to have to pay for it. The cost of Obamacare will fall heavily on the youth, as healthcare premiums will rise significantly for my generation. You want proof of redistribution of wealth? There you have it.

Perhaps what is most frightening about entering adulthood at this time in history is the cultural shifts I’ve seen take place before my eyes. My family found success through entrepreneurship and hard work. My grandmother raised 12 children on her own, most of whom went to college. Several of my relatives have started or run successful small businesses, my father included. They took advantage of a nation more accepting of free enterprise than the one we live in today. I honestly do not believe that these successes will be as easily attainable for me and for my children. We are now living in a nation where individual initiative and success are no longer prized highly. The president’s recent statement about how small businesses owe their success to “someone else” is indicative of this line of thinking. The individual is praised less than the collective. Then, when you reach a certain point of success you’re taxed to death because “you’ve made enough money.” Why succeed when you are punished for your victories? I want to enter the job market with hope that hard work and innovation will lead me towards success like my family before me. With a broken economy and culture that no longer prizes success, I am fearful for what my future holds.

Growing up in Obama’s America makes me realize that it is more important than ever for the youth to become truly engaged and activated. College students have gotten a bad rap for being apathetic and easily swayed by emotional appeals (i.e. “Hope and Change”), and for good reason. I’m concerned about a nation where flashy slogans hold more appeal than proven records. However, there are a few of us enlightened enough to realize that the America we learned about as children is on the brink of destruction. We must carry the torch for the next generation and ensure that freedom is preserved in the future and “Obama’s America” is no more than a footnote in history.