The Case for Millennials to Run for Office

Written by on October 8, 2015

Let’s take a short trip back to 2008 when Millennials flocked to the polls and voted.

In that presidential election, Illinois Sen. Barack Obama galvanized millennials to get up and vote for him in record numbers. Whether or not they believed he’d deliver on the promises of HOPE and CHANGE he had campaigned on, one thing was certain; millennials WANTED to vote for Obama and they did.

Unfortunately, they were absent for a crucial midterm election in 2010, before returning to the polls  in 2012 to keep Obama in office.

Fast forward to today. The 2016 Presidential election is shaping up to be one of the worst in recent memory. The Republicans offer a smorgasbord of mediocre candidates led by three people who have never held office. Meanwhile, Democrats who may have prematurely declared Hillary Clinton the presidential heir apparent have lost the momentum President Barack Obama gained with millennials in 2008 and 2012.

Low voter turnout seems imminent for the upcoming presidential election and local elections aren’t offering a beacon of hope. Take Pennsylvania, for instance. In Philadelphia, a city of more than 800,000 eligible registered voters, only 29% cast a ballot in the city’s primary election for mayor this May despite huge spending numbers.

The rise of the non-traditional candidate in this year’s election cycle says a lot about the political state of the country. In an era of online transparency, 24-hour news cycles and news organizations that scare on-the-fence voters into taking sides, the electorate is becoming frustrated with the whole process. That’s especially true for young people.

According to a study conducted last year by the Harvard University Institute of Politics, only 23 percent of respondents aged 18-29 definitely planned on voting in the upcoming election. That’s crazy. Less than one in four millennials cared enough to even CONSIDER voting, let alone getting up and actually doing it come election day.

How we came to this point can be debated. Some, (young people, mostly) blame lackluster education, while others (older folk) blame a lack of effort on behalf of young voters. But the solution has nothing to do with either.

There may never be a better time for millennials to throw our names in the hat for elected seats than now.

Think about it, we have all the answers to the world’s problems. A quick trip down my Twitter or Facebook timeline can prove that. What we don’t have is the power to make changes, that is until we get elected.

Before you pooh-pooh this idea because politics is corrupt, or young people don’t vote anyway, or whatever, think about this: we have awakened and connected with others like no other generation has to help seek solutions and get things done (see 2014 #blacklivesmatter marches).

Focusing that energy on voting will earn the attention of the political world. Running for elected office is the next step in that evolution. That alone will allow  us to control the narrative, rather than career politicians who fight for the interests of everyone but their constituents.

It’s going to take some work, research is a must, and running for office is no easy task. But the time for expecting stale incumbents to satisfy our desire for a better state of politics is over.

Mounting student debt, lack of jobs, lack of justice, marijuana legislation, prison reform, voting laws, potholes, education – none of these change until we’re elected. The only thing left for you to do…is RUN!

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