by Vilissa Thompson, LMSW
Have Millennials abandoned “Yes We Can” since the 2012 election? Recently, I went to my first Democratic Party meeting in my hometown. I decided to get involved because I enjoyed volunteering for the Presidential campaign in 2012, and I have aspirations of being a politician in the future. When I made my interest of being involved known to the Chair of my County’s Democratic Party, she was ecstatic. A good leader needs to have experience in various roles in order to expand their skill-set, become familiar with their responsibility, and the frustrations of each position. If I plan to become a political leader, having such familiarity will afford me the opportunity to understand how each person and their role is instrumental to the success of the Party, as well as ensuring that we are truly working on the behalf of the people.
While at the meeting, I quickly realized that I was one of perhaps two people under the age of 40 in attendance. I noticed the majority of individuals volunteering their service were in their late 40’s and up. I was truly surprised given that those under the age of 30 volunteered heavily during the 2008 & 2012 Presidential elections. Immediately, I began to feel embarrassed. The lack of representation by those under 30 plays directly into the stereotype that young people do not care about politics or wish to be involved in bettering their communities. Trust me, we do care about the issues affecting our lives and the actions of those representing us at all levels of government, but how do we maintain the level of millennials involvement for 2014? I started to think about one of macro social work professor’s lectures which seemed to capture the moment:
Millennials, we really have to become more of a visible voice and presence in this country. We are the future leaders, innovators, history makers, and politicians of this country, and our world. Our grandparents (members of the “Greatest Generation”/Silent Generation), our parents (the Baby Boomers), and our comrades just a few years older than us (Generation X), have overcome adversities that we will never endure due to their tireless efforts to leave the world in a better shape than it was when they came into it. When will we take the baton and lead this country, and the world, into a new stratosphere? We have the man and woman power to do so – we greatly outnumber the Baby Boomers & Generation X’ers combined. We are obtaining advanced degrees at record-breaking rates, plus we’re tech-savvy and excellent multi-taskers and team players. What are we waiting for?
I was left thinking about the legacy my generation will leave behind. Will we be considered revolutionary, progressive, and/or fearless agents of social change? Will we be remembered as ordinary or failed to follow through because we were too consumed with our own problems? Are we to be remembered as the disconnected generation, lacking a sense of community that used to exist in society? I do not want our fate to be tied to our inaction because we are educated and talented with less barriers than our predecessors.
Help me brainstorm and figure out how we can get more young people involved in the political arena. No matter your political affiliations or viewpoints, I cannot stress enough how important it is to be active within our communities. My fellow Millennials, this is our day. We cannot stand by and be mere spectators to what is going on around us. We cannot make the world better by just looking at the dysfunction. We have to roll up our sleeves and dive in head first without hesitation or reservations. We may not fix all the problems that exist in our world, but we can look back and say that we did a damn good job trying. I’m willing to try….. Are you? I think we all need a pep talk from Kid President!