An Open Letter To Millennials

Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, joined by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio., left, greets people in the audience duri
Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton, joined by Rep. Tim Ryan, D-Ohio., left, greets people in the audience during a campaign event at M-7 Technologies in Youngstown, Ohio, Saturday, March 12, 2016. (AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster)

I've watched with excitement and amazement at the energy, enthusiasm and concern for the future that the millennial generation put into the recent Democratic Party primary. The cheering, the late night rallies and the commitment infused our democracy with a needed jolt. America is at its best when it is impatient for change and ready to lead.

Closely watching over the past several months brought many of us back to the first campaign we participated in. I remember mine as a law student in New Hampshire. I was the campaign manager for a State Senate candidate in the year 2000. We lost by seven votes. But that loss triggered in me a deep desire to use the political process to bring about the changes I wanted to see in my region around Youngstown, Ohio and around the country and world. I haven't stopped since.

A few years later, at the age of 26, I ran for the Ohio State Senate against the entire local Democratic establishment. I won with little money and a campaign built of family members and young friends of mine. Just two years later I ran against the Democratic establishment again in both Ohio and Washington, D.C., beating a handful of candidates including a former, and then current, U.S. Congressman. I have been in Congress picking fights ever since. I have fought against bad trade deals, a broken economic system, intolerance in all its forms, and have worked to help families who have lost pensions after a lifetime of hard work. I am constantly working to help build a new economy that has sustainable growth so young people can thrive and prosper. Most recently, I was proud to help lead a sit-in on the floor of the House of Representatives to end a terrorists ability to get a gun and reduce gun violence in our communities.

I share this with you because I want you to know, if this is your first campaign, regardless of what side you were on, it is just the beginning. All of our candidates have shown by example that making change is a lifetime of work, not just part of a political cycle. They both have dedicated their lives to serving other people, to bringing about positive change and to keeping the least among us front and center. We are lucky to be a part of such a noble cause and a value-centered political party.

Now the fuel that you added into our democracy is just a start. We need your energy to help move our nation forward and to make the changes necessary against brutal and heavy forces that benefit from and are willing to fight for the status quo. Just look at the planks on our new platform. From minimum wage, criminal justice reform, to the environment and renewable energy, and creating an economy that works for everyone, these are issues that we fought for in this campaign. You've already made a difference. Now it is time for us all to stand on this platform that you helped construct and lead America to its best days.

Finally, we all stand on the shoulders of those who went before us, those who made the winding road straight and those who answered the call. Now it is our turn to answer that call; the call against intolerance, the call against greed, and the call against inhumanity in all its forms. It's our turn. There are losses along the way. There is hurt, there is pain and there is anger and frustration. But we are Americans. We succeed in spite of these roadblocks. Sometimes we run through them, sometimes around them, and every so often we leap over them with the grace and dignity that brings about a transformation that can benefit the entire world. Our country and world are counting on you. So are your children and grandchildren, even those yet to be born. Let's build them a world we can be proud of, one we are happy to leave them. Now is your time to leap!