Opinion: In 2020, younger voters can’t afford to sit out

In 2020 I will vote in my first presidential election ever as people my age are becoming a growing portion of eligible voters.
According to Pew Research Center, almost twice as many Millennials voted in 2016 compared to 2008, and also voted more than Baby Boomers, though by less than two percent.
Intelligencer Magazine reported stories of 12 people 18-29 years old who were not sure about voting in the 2018 midterms. Two themes that resonated in each story were the hassles of getting registered and most of all, something burned them out on the idea of politics.
For some it was the 2016 elections, but almost every story had to do with the candidates or the state of our system not representing them with their policies or not doing anything to encourage the Millennial generation to vote.
I can understand why people get burned out; politics is intertwined with every aspect of society, and it dominates the news and our conversations. It is undoubtedly relentless, and sometimes leads us to the conclusion that our problems cannot be fixed.
The optimistic side is that it makes the time we’re living in more, well, lively, and results in plenty of memes. Also, it’s important to remember we can still do something about it.
The fact that politics are not evolving to attract younger voters is another problem we cannot afford to heap on top of so many others. But how do we go about fixing our brokenness, or at least changing how we handle it?
The future is the answer, we are the answer. America needs someone who looks toward the future and will speak for this generation.
At the same time, American history proves that systemic change requires evolution of both social and political attitudes, and that takes years if not generations.
When I saw presidential candidate Beto O’Rourke speak recently he said legislation should not be “imposed” by the party which introduces it, and mentioned all the policy areas requiring the country’s attention such as climate change, healthcare and immigration.
Finding common ground should always be a starting point for our elected officials, but I fear the extent of our division needs a stronger resolution than compromises between parties that may not be fruitful.

A characteristic I think the next president needs is realism. I know candidates cannot very well go on the campaign trail and propose just a little bit of change. However, no matter how much change is needed or desired, candidates and voters should not assume every proposal will come to fruition.
I believe our country needs reform, but more than that I want someone who will develop a plan to actually solve them America needs so much change and it will not happen all in four years.
Once in office, the president should focus on making dramatic change on the issues that most threaten our country and work toward incremental change on others. We cannot expect perfection as our present is very much uncharted territory.
I think it has seldom been true that our representatives in Congress and the White House have based their policies or agenda entirely on the needs and desires of the people they serve.
Politics is a new foray for me, and I already relate to the feeling of despair about our political progress; but I also enjoy new challenges and these make me want to inform myself and actively participate.
If this is a low point for America; we should be wielding our influence, not standing by: we simply cannot afford it anymore.


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