Young voters deserve to be taken seriously
A phrase we hear a lot lately is “we’re all in this together,” something that’s true during our pandemic reality but also in our electoral reality. In particular, it’s true for progressives who need to come together in order to realize progress in November.
But while we talk of togetherness, we don’t always get it right.
Recently, the New York Times wrote a well-intentioned but flawed piece entitled “Hey Kids: Get Out There and Vote!” Apart from the condescending tone of referring to adults as kids, the piece went on to make points about “the inability to deliver” and the need to “beg and bargain” to be taken seriously. These messages - or lack thereof - illustrate why young voters can become disillusioned with the establishment that writes a piece attempting to prop them up while also knocking them down.
It’s important to acknowledge that the path to togetherness comes through respect.
The youth vote is too often referred to as "the future." Sure, but the youth vote is also "the now,” and if the progressive movement wants to get serious about mobilizing young people, we have to take them seriously.
If you believe in progressive values such as abortion rights, voting rights, immigrant rights, LGBTQIA+ equality, access to affordable care, protecting the environment, an economy that works for all of us, and so much more, than you should believe that young voters are on the frontlines of this activism and are an important part of the progressive movement.
Those who insist that young voters “fall in line” are forgetting that the progressive movement is built on youth activism, and that we need people fighting for that change on the outside because political systems rarely change themselves from the inside. We have to be inclusive and work together, otherwise our movement dies.
Does this mean catering to every youth demand? No more than it means youth having to cave to every boomer demand. Remember: we’re all in this together.
The Times’ editorial fell flat not just because it wasn’t written by young people, but because it didn’t appear to even try to connect with young people. To mobilize together means to partner, not patronize. Successful movements value youth engagement - and that's exactly what we need right now.