As the worst global health pandemic continues to spread across America, we focus on our employment numbers and the daily death toll. We stay socially distanced from our families to keep everyone safe. We are homeschooling while cooking dinner and gently discussing the November 2020 election. As we “adult” through these very difficult times, we miss many of the signs that our American youth are stifled from the rise that every generation must make to ensure America’s greatness. We still have time to ensure that our next generations, the Zs and Millenials, can make the impact needed for America to be a 21st Century leader by changing our electoral, educational, and career behaviors.
America’s youth voters collectively impacted the 2018 elections when 42% of Millenial voters and 30% of Gen Zs turned out to vote. That impact will grow as more of the Gen Zs population turn 18 this year. But what does America have to offer these voters when we are delaying elections and primaries? Over 15 states have postponed their primaries due to an inability to switch to a socially distanced method of voting. These new generations don’t need polling places or mail-in votes. The largest voting bloc would easily download an app and change America’s political future. If we want the future generations of America to ensure our success, the first step is ensuring their ability to vote. Studies have proven the earlier age a person begins to vote the increased likelihood they’ll become supervoters-people who vote in every election. We need to make voting a phone app to ensure Democracy for all of the American voters.
You might think that the political parties dominating American politics are not keenly aware of the impact the youth vote could have on our country. Maybe they continue to pick candidates like Joe Biden that are not inspiring youth voters. Sure, the political parties choose candidates that tow the line for them like Biden’s lifelong Democrat membership. But he’s not what the majority of youth (in some states the majority of voters) want. As COVID-19 swept the nation, suddenly Bernie Sanders dropped out of the race. Curiously good timing as Democrats knew they needed one candidate for a collective push against President Trump for the remainder of the year. That move eliminated the true democratic process of youth voter’s ability to vote for a candidate that promised them the future of America. Now that unemployment is at the Great Depression level, you can bet people prefer a candidate that would provide freedom from student loans and healthcare for all. The youth might have had it right.
The Constitutional rights of our WWI, WWII, Korean, and Vietnam veterans were discarded when they were shipped off to fight for a country they couldn’t even vote for. But the 26th Amendment was ratified to ensure future generations could vote at younger ages. Currently, that same amendment which provides for people 18 and older to vote is being thwarted. Politicians and political parties are attempting to stop mail-in voting with stipulations based on a physical inability to access the polls due to illness or age. We cannot teach the youth of America to take the reigns of this great countries’ democratic process when we consistently obstruct their participation. We need to amend that amendment to include all voters can vote by mail.
Last but not least, America’s youth will miss important ceremonial opportunities. We have millions of kids graduating from high school that have nowhere to go. Our adult entrants can’t go to work, college, or to the awesome high school graduation parties. They have worked hard and zip, nada, life stops. We know that COVID-19 is to blame and there’s no argument here about that. Stay-at-home orders are saving lives, but we have seen this type of economic shift down during the Great Recession. Only ten years ago we had graduates that couldn’t get a job or go to a trade school or college. All of these options should have been online since then. Our government needs to revamp its employment database to include online jobs. Billions of dollars are made from working at home from monitoring Facebook conversations to online sales. But politicians haven’t ensured that these resources are available. Colleges have also not caught up to the times with exorbitant tuition. If students don’t need to be on campus drop the prices to encourage enrollment and educational opportunity. Trade schools are all very hands-on (I know this as a 21-year LiUNA laborer) but we can switch those online as well. The electricians and carpenters can take many of their classes online. The same for plumbers-counting pipe footage can be done from anywhere. Trade schools are an important aspect of preparing the next generation to continue to build and repair our American infrastructure-offer these classes online to mitigate a shortfall in workers.
We have been here before many times from wars to recessions and back. This proves our leadership knows better from experience and should move quickly to empower our youth. They are our future.
This article is dedicated to my American youth- Michael Galvan, Merrick Bauer, and Brendan and Violet Dydo. These incredible people are formulating their entrance into America’s 21st century through tough times. I thank them for their resiliency and their vigor. You’ve got this!
Coming in May 2020, We The People: Policy For Progress my first published collection of political solutions for the people. Look for it in the Kindle Bookstore.
And thank you for always taking the time to read Political Writes’ twice-weekly articles on Mondays and Thursdays. The more we know, the better we are prepared to make the future truly democratic.