Millennial Politics: If You Are Not At The Table, You Will Be On The Menu
Boring. Broken. Self-interested.
These are adjectives that Millennials are currently using to describe Washington DC and, more specifically, Congress.
I always wondered why the majority of my peers were so repelled by politics and why they only chose to vote, like the majority of Americans, for the president during the general election.
A backstory for context, I am very passionate about politics. More so, youth engagement in politics. I always found it very interesting that all industries from Agriculture to Energy and everything in between are affected by policy.
During my time as an undergraduate, I was provided with some amazing resources to learn about politics, the people making the decisions and how they affected everyday Americans.
Earlier this summer, we decided to bridge communications between our elected officials and the Millennial generation. We came up with a series, titled Y-Politics. This is a series that will educate and engage the Millennial generation with its representatives and the most pressing issues affecting the demographic.
We spent the majority of our summer putting together the proposal, making calls, leveraging favors and cold calling the majority of Congress.
Half way through our efforts, it seemed that our generation’s sentiments are correct: Congress does not want to engage with us and is “too busy for its constituents.” I am not one to step away from a challenge and so I decided to press on.
We reached out to a total of 23 elected officials: 15 Members of Congress and eight US Senators from both sides of the aisle.
Since it’s an election year, all of Congress is up for re-election and the majority of the Senate seats are in a similar position, making it challenging for us to obtain facetime with members… but not impossible.
We realized that our only window was the time between summer recess and campaign season: five days in early September.
With the team ready to go, we packed our bags, said a prayer and got on the train. As a team we took a risk, we only had three confirmed interviews with others being game-time decisions, but we realized that once we were on the Hill, it would be easier to facilitate interviews.
Our risk paid off.
We interviewed a total of seven members, visited the DNC & RNC, spoke to many staffers on the Hill and got an amazing behind the scenes tour of the Capitol.
Bridging The Gap
Yes, Washington is broken, but, like communication, it requires a two-way conversation. Acknowledging the facts while spitting out figures and pointing fingers is always the easy route.
One underlying notion we learned from interviewing these elected officials is that they want to hear from us. They want to establish communication in order to champion the Millennial Agenda we are so passionately invested in because the decisions that are made today will affect us tomorrow.
I am not defending Congress, but I am also not blaming it. Our vote matters, it actually speaks volumes. These elected officials are very well aware that WE EMPLOY THEM. Contrary to popular belief, they want to hear from us and they want to help us, but like many others, they just don’t know how to engage us.
With this series, we want take away the excuses of “he said, she said” notion and provide members of Congress and their constituents the Elite Daily platform to bridge the communication gap.
The members of Congress whom we spoke to are championing legislation to better assist the Millennial demographic by addressing the rising cost of education, unemployment, veteran affairs and engagement among many others.
Personally, it seems to me that our generation finds itself in a catch-22. We don’t want to speak to Congress because we think it’s broken and Congress is broken because we don’t speak to it.
Like any relationship, communication is key. In today’s digital world in which members of Congress have multiple sources of communication (Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat and Instagram), it’s never been easier to reach out to its members. (Fun Fact: We landed Congressman Schock’s interview via Twitter.)
Congress has our best interests in mind when it comes to legislation. As constituents, we need to communicate what those interests are, whether it is by voting, tweeting, calling or scheduling a meeting with our representatives, we need to voice our priorities.
Our Founding Fathers purposely framed Congress to move at a specific speed in order to prevent mob mentality.
Congress is not perfect and neither are we. In order for us to see initiatives and policies that dictate our desires, we need to have a seat at the table. We need to meet members of Congress where they are and lead them to where we want them to be.
If we don’t take action and engage with them, we have no reason to complain when decisions that affect us are put in place without our input.
Whether you are politically active or not, we are a generation that values our individuality, our choices and we dictate our futures with our actions. So why don’t we apply the same values to the very system that affects us all?
I hope you find the series engaging, I encourage you to take action and, most importantly, let us know how we can help you amplify your voice.
Photos Courtesy: AmMediaGroup