We’re ready for 2020! Now how do I get involved?
By Morgan Stahr, Meg Srabon, & Nick Guthman
Following the CNN presidential candidate town halls focused on issues of importance to Gen Z and Millennial voters, one thing is clear:
We’re ready for a leader who will take bold action on the issues we care about. This includes tackling climate change, preventing gun violence in our schools and communities, pushing for tuition free college, and cancelling student debt, to name a few.
If you’re reading this, our guess is that you are interested in the 2020 elections. As young people who care about the future of our world, we have a responsibility to contribute to the progress of this nation. It’s our responsibility to do everything we can to build a country we can be proud of. To do so, we must first understand that we have the power to change the course of history, we must believe that we seriously can do it, and then channel that power into action.
Our world changes slowly which frustrates many young people to the point of apathy. But, too much is on the line to sit out this time around. We must take action to demand real improvements for our most vulnerable communities, and for ourselves. We must all step up and play a role in the upcoming election. It is not enough to just vote, we must organize our family, friends, and classmates to vote, too.
However, there’s one obstacle in our way: progressive candidates and groups have failed to systematically invest in the next generation of leaders for too long . A recent report from the Century Foundation highlights the troubling lack of financial investment in youth organizing within the progressive movement, especially in comparison to the conservative movement. In 2018 alone, the College Republican National Committee spent over $3 million dollars while the College Democrats of America had a budget of $50,000. The inequity is blatantly obvious.
Young people understand the special opportunity we have to change the course of history in the 2020 election; similarly, the left must recognize and embrace this special opportunity to catalyze progressive change by investing in our generation. The progressive movement must help provide the opportunity for all young people who want to fight for change in this most important election to do so.
Conventional wisdom would say that young people don’t vote and don’t know enough about politics to have a seat at the table. But, we cannot ignore that in recent elections more and more young people are becoming engaged in politics. According to the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement, youth voter turnout increased in all 34 states where data is available in 2018, compared to the 2014 midterm cycle. More and more young people are beginning to understand that every aspect of our life is affected by politics. We see this when our classmates are gunned down in their own schools or we feel this when we see every paycheck go right from our wallets to pay off our student loan debt. It’s time for young people to step up and do something about these issues and take responsibility for the future of our country.
If we look at history, young people have always led movements for social change. The civil rights movement of the 1960’s and the anti-war movement of the 1970’s were led by students. Young people back then knew they had a responsibility to do something about the political affairs of the time. But for far too many young Americans today, the cost of higher education, exploding rent, and flat wages mean we cannot afford to devote our lives to activism nor fulfill our civic responsibility to fight for progress the same way past generations did. Making real investments in youth organizing would signal to young people across the country that we can create change through electoral politics.
As Co-Founders of Blue Future, a political organization that directly invests in student leaders working for progressive campaigns, we’ve worked with some of the best and brightest young progressive organizers across the country. Our generation is hard working, passionate, resilient and eager to fulfill our civic responsibility. We just need small investments to unleash our capacity to spark a powerful, long-term, movement for social progress. We know our power, and if you’re reading this we hope you know your power, too.
Young people have more at stake than any other generation. We also have more voting power than any other generation, and we have to take on the great responsibility that comes with such a great power. Young people want to uphold the values of our movement and work for candidates who will advocate for legislation that leads to real improvements in people’s lives.
With relatively small financial investments, we could prove victorious up and down the ticket on November 3, 2020 and above all, reinvigorate a movement for social change in our country.