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Gen Z has earned a seat at the table

Associated Press/Sue Ogrocki
“I Voted” stickers are available for voters at an early voting location Thursday, June 23, 2022, in Oklahoma City.

It’s clear that Generation Z has earned a seat at the table. We’ve led the social movements that have shaped our current politic climate and helped elect President Joe Biden and Vice President Kamala Harris into office. Our growing political power is driven by our unique perspective on the future as we ask ourselves: What does the future hold?

Too often, as young people we are underestimated due to our age, but in reality many of us have years of experience and our youth and age is not a detriment, but an asset providing our perspective as members of the generation who will be living in the future that the policies of today will create.

This election cycle, young voters once again voted decisively Democratic and turned out in numbers that exceeded historical trends.  This made our demographic the deciding factor, delivering the margin for Democrats in close races for the last three major elections. As John Della Volpe, Director of Polling at the Harvard Institute of Politics and 2020 Biden campaign adviser wrote, “Winning one election might be an accident. Two, an anomaly. Three in a row proves that earning the support of the Gen Z-millennial alliance is essential to winning elections in our current era.”

But as important as engaging the Gen Z-millennial alliance is to winning political power, it’s just as crucial that young Americans are represented in the federal government.

We are able to organize our peers because we understand how to reach young voters, where we can be reached and what message is the most effective. Just as it is crucial for youth organizers to be the ones reaching out to young voters, it is just as crucial that young Americans are represented in government.

The Biden-Harris administration has done a great job of engaging young Americans through roundtables and events, but there is a distinct difference between being viewed as a constituency group that needs to be engaged and being treated as a partner in the policy-making and governing process. It’s time for us to no longer be siloed to digital outreach or only viewed as voters and amplifiers. Many of us are strategists and policy experts, too — and our generation must be represented in all rooms where decisions that affect us are being made. Gen Z and millennials make over 40 percent of the electorate yet we are only 7 percent of the federal workforce.

When I met then-presidential hopeful Kamala Harris in October 2019, I asked her what her message to young people was and without hesitation she said not to wait or ask for permission to lead.

After the 2020 election, dozens of youth-led and youth-serving organizations coalesced around the need for substantial infrastructure for the inclusion of young Americans in official administration positions.

Two years later, there are more than 100 supporting organizations representing over 3 million young people. The youth movement is unified across dozens of issue areas and ideologies in our call to create an “Office of Young Americans,”  empower youth in existing positions and create a “Young Americans Advisory Council.”

This proposal is proof of concept in-and-of-itself: young people organized a formidable coalition, wrote policy and secured support from the House of Representatives. This includes working with the congressional Future Forum Caucus to turn proposals into appropriations report language. Similar work can and should continue with the White House, whether that be on an executive order, operationalizing the report language to conduct a “Federal Youth Inclusion Assessment” or working to secure additional funding for the fiscal 2024 budget.

When our generation leads, driven by our unique perspective of our future, we are relentless in the pursuit of justice and our very democracy — we will march, organize and turnout to protect it.

We have consistently shown up to protect the future of American democracy. We have shown up for the Biden-Harris administration. We have shown up for their agenda. Now, is the time for the administration to show up for us.

Eve Levenson is a co-founder and lead organizer of the YouthInGov Coalition. She is also a senior adviser for Voters of Tomorrow and national youth adviser for Grassroots Dem HQ.

Tags 2022 midterm elections gen z gen z voters Joe Biden Kamala Harris midterm elections Millennials Youth vote

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