When it comes to America’s youth or millennials and their politics, it’s easy to call many of their ideas and opinions incoherent. But one thing the majority of young Americans can agree upon, is that they don’t see today’s government as the best venue for performing their civic duty. Millennials represents more than one quarter of the nation’s population, according to population projections from the U.S. Census Bureau. With their size now exceeding baby boomers by 7.7 million, many millennials believe it is time for them to step up and make a change in the world.
March 7, 2019, was cross over day at the Georgia State Capital. This is the day during the Georgia State legislative session in which a bill must have passed at least one chamber (State House or Senate) to continue under consideration. An organization called Georgia Shift hosted an event where you could come meet and speak with the elected officials of your congressional district about the bills you wanted them to vote for, along with expressing any other issues within your community.
The event had a great turn out. There were people of all ages and races, and from my observation, I’d say about 95 percent of the people there were millennials. I could feel the motivation in the room as Brian, one of the speakers, spoke to the group about certain issues to present to their elected officials. One issue that almost everyone who attended agreed upon was that congress is doing a substandard job.
Towards the end of the event I got a chance to speak with a fellow millennial Kind Williams, who’s a senior at the University of West Georgia. She attended the event for two reasons specifically. The first was her support for Senate Bill 92, which would prohibit professional licenses from being denied or revoked because of student loan debt status.
Her second reason for attending was because she felt that it was her civic duty to let her congressional district leader know that she and many of her peers feel they’re doing a poor job of representing people within the district. She spoke with her elected official about how she feels congress has become dysfunctional due to its member’s lack of constitutional ambition, and how members view the institution of Congress as a platform to help raise their personal profile.
In an article in the Commentary titled, “Congress Is Weak Because Its Members Want It to Be,” Yuval Levin writes about how Congress is weak and unstable because that suits its members. He said Congress could renew itself only if its members wanted such renewal and that a shortage of constitutional ambition is the real trouble with Congress.
So when Kind spoke about bringing up such concerns to her Representative, it was clear to me she knew what she was talking about. Her and everyone who spoke with their elected official that day all made one apparent point by doing so. That’s is that young people still do care about the future of our country.
Kind expressed how she felt this event and many other events hosted by the Georgia Shift organization is good for young Americans and for democracy. She feels that it is vital that millennials attend such events because this can be the first step to progress, and that’s by letting your opinions on issues be known to the very officials you got elected.
Overall, Kind and I both felt that this was an astonishing experience. The Georgia Shift organization did a great job of hosting it. After attending this event Kind and I both stated that we’d surely attend another event hosted by the organization in the near future.
I commend Georgia Shift for their efforts to put democracy to work. They continuously provide young citizens with opportunities for their voices to be heard. In “On Democracy,” by Robert A. Dahl, he talks about how democracy is a system that ensures its citizens rights and that requires effective participation from them. He also touches on how democracy offers citizens the right to express their views on political matters, to hear what other citizens have to say, and to discuss political matters with other citizens. Well this is exactly what happened on cross over day at the Georgia State Capital. Democracy was in full effect and millennials were leading the way.
Although millennials maybe labeled as a politically indifferent and a detached generation, most can agree that the idea of making our democratic systems more responsive and more inclusive is paramount. With millennials exceeding baby boomers by 7.7 million, many young Americans feel it’s their responsibility to go out and do something. Adrienne Dunn posted an article in The State Press titled, “Millennials do actually care about politics,” where she touched on how millennials also have opinions on topics ranging from global warming to the cost of tuition.Millennials want their voices and opinions to be heard and want to make a difference in the world. Millennials are beginning to see their value and through the process they’re on the verge of changing the status quo.
Photo by Matt Barnett “Georgia State Capitol” Flickr