The Daily Aztec

Young people can make a difference in 2020

But for those of us not impacted by widespread voter suppression, or other concerted efforts to derail certain groups of people from voting — we can and absolutely must channel this collective concern for the state of our union into bold, unrelenting action.

by Kemi Giwa, Opinion Editor

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Alas. 

Campaign season has begun.

Perhaps a bit early, to some — but for good reason, of course. 

The primaries will be crowded, and each Democratic candidate knows they need to make their case to the American people. 

A clear and compelling case for why they are the best person to take on Trump, rehabilitate the country and refocus the country’s energy into priorities the majority of Americans genuinely care about — the economy, healthcare, gun policy, immigration reform and more.

Now, similar to the 2016 presidential election, television pundits are already beginning to berate young people for our lack of participation. 

While some of the critique is fair, any critique suggesting that young people don’t care is simply untrue.

We do.

But for those of us not impacted by widespread voter suppression, or other concerted efforts to derail certain groups of people from voting — we can and absolutely must channel this collective concern for the state of our union into bold, unrelenting action.

By doing this, we can ensure that after Jan. 20, 2021, we no longer have to deal with a president who refers to neo-nazis as “fine people” or black athletes as “sons of bitches,” one who holds 800,000 federal workers hostage in order to con the American people of their hard-earned money all for an unnecessary 2,000 mile wall, or one who authorizes the separation of families and the caging of children.

The list goes on, and the only way to stop this nonsense is action.

If there is anything last November showed us, it’s that grassroots organizing really does work.

Organize. 

Protest. 

Knock on doors. 

Volunteer to phone bank.

Post on social media. 

Talk to your neighbors. 

Talk to your friends. 

Talk to them about the candidates that inspire you, about the policies that matter and more importantly, about how critical this moment in time is. 

Consolidating and fortifying the majority in the House is crucial, and regaining the Senate and the White House is key to keeping this sinking ship afloat.

But, this will take a lot of hard work. 

Work that can’t wait until a few months before November 2020. 

The work starts now.

We can’t take the impressive surge in political activity and excitement amongst young people for granted. 

We mustn’t risk thinking, “Oh well, my friends are all voting, so I don’t think I need to” or “My vote doesn’t count, so I won’t vote.”

There is far too much at stake to let the importance of this election slip our minds, and we can’t afford to languish in complacency. 

Also important is making sure we support the Democratic nominee. 

Whoever it may be. 

Now, this isn’t to suggest that we shouldn’t be critical of all candidates, we should. 

They need to be put through the ringer and their past voting records should be analyzed in depth.

We must hold them accountable, viciously challenge them and demand they answer to us. 

This isn’t a request, it’s a requirement. 

It’s their responsibility.

But, we should do that while understanding what’s on the line, and remembering the importance of giving people the space to grow, evolve and explain.

And to those who aren’t finding the slate of potential nominees particularly appealing, just remember: an imperfect candidate is better than a Republican president. 

Now, look, no Democratic candidate will be perfect, some you may even find problematic in certain areas, but there won’t be a candidate more problematic than Donald Trump. 

Not even close.

As far as House or Senate races go, if you’re not satisfied with the ways in which the elected officials in your community operate and you think you can do better, run.

After this past November, we now have a Congress with an unprecedented amount of people of color, women and young people.

This is because our voices and concerns resonate with the rising demographics of this country and those tired of business as usual, status quo politics.

Our perspectives on issues ranging from healthcare and minimum wage to jobs and social justice makes sense.

I also especially implore young people of color and women to run.

Representation in spaces where we’re given the opportunity to shape policy isn’t something we should take for granted.

Figure out where you fit in and what you have to offer in the fight to generate a massive blue wave, and get to work.

Kemi Giwa is a senior studying public relations and political science. You can connect with her on Twitter @_KemiG.

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