Don't Wait Until 2016 to Make Political Change

Leading up to the 2016 presidential elections -- a race that is, to the annoyance of many, already dominating the political debate - the current narrative asserts that young people do not believe that we can truly influence government for the common good. Jon Stewart quipped that, in the last election, money was the winner: money beats ideas. Because of this influx of private money in our electoral processes and the rise of hyper-ideological legislators, people believe that government will now be more ineffective than ever before. Political commentators have argued that without an Obama-esque figure on the national ticket, new and diverse voters have no inspiration to come to the polls. There is a palpable fear that an entire generation will disinvest, tune out, and just stay home for elections to come.

We refuse to accept this sentence to inactivity. America has deep problems to solve in every community, city, and state. We need to continue the charge to bring the people most affected by these problems into the process of fixing them. Why? Because broad participation will lead to quality, inclusive outcomes. Mutual interest is self-interest, and communities have the ability to adapt, even in moments when positive change looks far from attainable. Participation can happen beyond electoral processes.

In fact, participation needs to happen beyond electoral processes. As one of the founders of the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network, Kai Stinchcombe, stated, "Elections are every so often. Democracy is ongoing." This country needs real ideas with real impact on people's lives to move forward. As we saw in the 2014 midterms, when ideas were on the ballot, they increased turnout and saw victory: minimum wage, gun violence prevention, and so on. Imagine the potential for platforms that encourage debate on real ideas throughout the entire year. You don't really need to imagine it: that is called governance.

That's why we have started a new initiative at the Roosevelt Institute | Campus Network -- Policy By and For: Where Ideas Meet Action. At a time when innovative political ideas are needed more than ever, our members are organizing their peers to take their policy ideas to their elected officials - online and offline. By connecting our ideas to decision makers and power brokers, we are creating a groundswell of real policy change.

We're taking our ideas to the place where they can have the most impact, in local communities all across the country.

We stand for better governance: smarter ideas, impact over ideology, mutual interest over selfishness, understanding over fear of the unfamiliar. We believe that communities of people, when brought together with the right tools, platforms and opportunities, can solve our most challenging policy problems. In 2015, we seek to bring new voices into the debate. We're moving toward transformational change--change that will impact us both now and into the future.