I was 14 when I fell in love with American politics.
The 2008 election captivated me like nothing else ever had. I wanted to be a part of it, because I wanted to make a difference. I loved the grittiness and the completely unexpected and thrilling nature. I thrived on the banter and the disagreement, and I rallied behind the promise of change and prosperity. I fell in love with politics because I believed in the positivity it could create and the potential it held.
I fell out of love with American “politics” in 2016.
This election has frightened me like nothing else ever has. It has challenged my pride in my party affiliations, affirmed my lack of tolerance for hatred and bigotry, and questioned my belief in the organic goodness of human beings. But I need to be a part of it - now more than ever - because I dowant to make a difference.
There has never been a more important time to be a millennial. A voting millennial. Because this next election affects us in big ways:
Our Health Care
For those of us out of school, unemployed, but not yet 26 (most 20-somethings freshly post grad), this issue matters. Currently under the Affordable Care Act, kids are allowed to stay under their parents’ health care plans until they’re 26. Hillary states she wants to amend the expensive, dysfunctional pieces of the Affordable Care Act, but plans to keep this expanded coverage. Trump says he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act in its entirety, taking this policy along with it. He’s bound to rewrite the policy as he sees fit, but there’s no guarantee that this specific age cap will make the cut for the next 20,000-page document that's proposed as health care reform. Or that it’ll pass before you’re 26.
Our Bank Accounts
Employment sounds exhilarating while buried in the book stacks, fighting through midterm season, but after all of this academic work: there’s more work – real world work. During these next 4 years we’re affording college (or trying to) and entering the workforce; we’re making moves to start and continue our careers, and we’re investing ourselves (and our sanity) in the economy as part of America's work force. Who we elect will define our tax brackets, they will (or won’t) regulate Wall Street, and they’ll influence economic policy during one of our nation’s most successful and prosperous times. This is the term we’ll be looking to buy houses, start trying to accrue our own assets, and potentially get married and start families. We might be broke now (#college), but let’s not be broke later, too.
Our Travel Bug
We’re full of wanderlust and we’ve already trotted the globe – or wanted to – before we've even graduated. We study abroad, we visit every
acquaintance friend we know across Europe, and we prioritize exploring as our favorite expenditure. Our ability to navigate the globe and travel safely around the world has never been as threatened as it is today. National security and foreign affiliations are at the forefront of election talk (when we're not talking scandals), and both Hillary and Trump have vocalized their contrasting views on immigration and foreign relations. During this election process, we’ve been numbed by prejudice and chauvinistic language; but hatred and discriminatory policy transcend U.S. boarders, bound to affect American relations with other nations, and consequently: your bucket list. We need a president with professionalism, one who can conduct him/herself with dignity and who will be respected. So let’s not go down the road of electing a sexist, disagreeable man who lacks social cues. And manners. That’s a place we don’t want to wander.
Math is math, history is history, and science is science. Our environment is changing, and our data isn’t lying. We’re leaving a footprint on the planet – (un)questionably a carbon one – and what we do has an irreversible impact. From production to consumption, our habits tend to be disposable. We’re at the mercy of big oil and resource monopolies because we’re dependent on our environment's riches to (literally) fuel our daily lives. But the environment depends on us, too. Literally. Without parenthesis. It won’t protect itself, and we need to keep pushing for companies and industries to be held accountable for their unsustainable practices – no matter how successful or lucrative they may be. The quality of our lives (and air) depends on our ability and willingness to protect our environment and to improve current environmental policies and practices. So let’s do this, and kick some carbon butt. For your future kids, and mine.
Four years is a long time. And in four years, I'll be 26 – almost 27. While I’m not (at all) thinking about marriage or a family right now, I have no idea where I’ll be in four years or what life will hold in that time. What I do know: as long as Trump is (potentially) president, I will not have children. Why? Because I refuse to bring my daughter into a world where she doesn’t have the rights she undoubtedly and humanly deserves. I refuse to subject my son to ill examples of respectfulness and to showcase a world of accepted sexism. This is a term when some of us will have kids; and if we don't have them, we’ll likely start thinking about having them. And as with most things, it’ll never be the “perfect time." But let’s not make it the “worst possible time.” Talk about a Baby Doom.
We’re a generation of diversity and one of acceptance. More than any other generation, we were raised with opportunity: to be race-blind, to love equally, and to be ourselves unapologetically. We’ve fought for equality and social justice at every turn, giving our generation known (and publicized) characteristics like: family oriented and team players. Sure, we want more flexible work schedules and a little more “me time” than the generations before us, but we also want peace, acceptance, and continued opportunity - for everyone. We’ve been raised to genuinely care about one another and to respect differences, noting that diversity only strengthens our stance and enriches our communities. And I’ll be damned if we let that go with this next election. With millennials becoming the most influential generation with ballots, it’s time we take a stand. We’re rising in the rankings, and we need to voice what matters: out with the old, in with the new (millennium of voters).
We all have our own political opinions and ideals. I’m not saying yours are wrong (or right). But if you have a stance, make sure it's yours and that it's rooted in truths and backed by facts. I’m not telling you whom to vote for (although, I wish I could, because #imwithher), but I do encourage you to sit down and seriously consider the effects and/or consequences of electing Donald Trump – for you and for others. It’s finally a time when we’re big and strong (and over 18), and we have voices that are desperate to be heard. I stand with her, simply because I absolutely refuse to stand with him. There’s never been an election with such high stakes, and America has never needed your voice more than it does on November 8th. Need a pen?