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Youth in politics: words of wisdom

October 6, 2016

In the last several elections it has been the votes of young people that have often swung the tide in favor of one candidate over the other. President Obama handedly defeated both John McCain and Mitt Romney when it came down to millennial’s votes, and as of recently, millennials appear to either be the most politically active, or they don’t actually pay any attention at all. With that being said, numerous public figures and members of the political media have called upon the youth the acknowledge the power they could wield and start getting involved. Regardless of political ideology, the call is clear, the youth must get involved politically and make their voices heard.

Michael Signorile is the editor-at-large of the Huffington Post’s “Queer Voices,” and has been involved in political activism for over two decades. Although he attended Syracuse for journalism tailored towards public relations and entertainment media, he soon took up the cause of political activism when an issue he cared about came to bear on the national stage. Signorile said he began to call on the federal government in the late 1980s to better address the AIDs academic that had come about during that time, and he even founded a newspaper dedicated to stories of that nature, describing his style as “in your face kind of politics,” in order to better force the Republican administration to finally take action.

Although he hadn’t been too excessively political interested during his youth, Signorile said, “I would have like to have been more focused,” and that youth of today shouldn’t simply wait until an issue to impact them personally. He emphasized the importance of millennials understanding the power that they wield in numbers, and that “what they don’t like, they can change,” he said.

He referenced the upheaval in today’s Republicans and Democrats, saying that the youth of today can and must change them to fit what the more contemporary trains of thought are saying, for example he praised young people for helping to make socialism a positive word again. He said, “Younger people should not be discouraged but rather they should feel empowered. Be involved with politics and do it with passion.”

On the other side of the political spectrum, Austin Petersen is a libertarian journalist, activist and political commentator. Although like Signorile, Petersen had not entertained any political notions early in life, it was one campaign and one man who changed although for him. Petersen volunteered for Ron Paul’s presidential campaign in 2008, as he said the Congressmen from Texas’s libertarian views represented his far more than Republicans did. He also said he was raised conservatively but disagreed with the social viewpoints, however, “I knew I was not a Democrat because I believed in free markets,” he said. The Ron Paul campaign taught him the importance of grass roots movements and also of the power that the youth can wield, as many of Paul’s rallies were college students chanting “End the Fed!”.

For Petersen the issue that has really gotten him more involved has been federal negligence regarding the national debt and the never ending expenditures it finances with borrowing. He also feels that the youth gravitate naturally to his own libertarian ideals, which are, “You should be able to do as you please as long as it hurts no one else,” he said. He called on youth to help move toward a more voluntary society, in which all people are free to make their own choices and live their own lives. Petersen said, “Libertarianism is the idea that you own your life and your body. Young people should care.”

All in all, whether it be from the left, right or anywhere in between, people who are involved in politics today want the youth generations to be involved in it tomorrow. Even now, this generation has a choice, choose to utilize its full potential and supplant the baby boomers as a voting powerhouse, or slide into the background, where its grievances or cares may never truly be realized.


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