Budowsky: Students march on the midterms

Budowsky: Students march on the midterms
© Greg Nash

Last Saturday, in Washington and communities across the nation, millions of students and those who stand with them marched with passion and determination against the gun violence that has plagued our schools and neighborhoods for far too long.

For those who attended and others who vicariously participated through television and social media, it was a moment to remember that promises to have a powerful and lasting effect on American public life. The younger generation is rising to take its place at center stage and will have a dramatic impact on the midterm elections in November.

While considering what was unique and inspiring about the march on Washington, let’s consider the pure electoral impact of the student movement and everything it represents. The students were not only marching on Washington, they were marching on the midterm elections with a fierce determination to change the course of history.


The students will provoke a triple-barreled surge in voter turnout. First, already registered young voters will turn out in numbers larger than their historical average. Second, newly registered young voters will also turn out in significant numbers.  Third — and this is important — the parents, neighbors and teachers who love and support the kids will be hugely motivated to turn out on Election Day to support them. The electoral power of this is fascinating and profound.

What made the March on Washington so inspiring to me and others who attended was the powerful sense of family that inspired the moment. We were there for the kids.  We love them, back them and want to help them change the world. In this movement, it is the kids who inspire and teach their elders in this vast, inspiring movement to make America better.

When young Emma González addressed the crowd in Washington with six minutes of silence to commemorate the time it took for the mass murderer to kill her classmates, she brought tears to our eyes and steel to our spirits to end the carnage of weapons of war being used to kill kids in our schools.

When Jennifer Hudson sang “The Times They Are A Changing,” she was reciting the words of Bob Dylan to inspire people of all generations to stand with the younger generation that stakes its claim today.

During the marches on Saturday, the League of Women Voters and others were signing up new voters in droves. After the marches ended, the students began massive voter registration programs in every state, with financial support from progressive billionaire Tom Steyer and public support from luminaries such as George Clooney and Oprah Winfrey.

I recently ran into former Secretary of State John KerryJohn Forbes KerryJohn Kerry: Democratic debate 'was something of a food fight' Kerry responds to Trump accusation he violated Logan Act: 'Another presidential lie' Mellman: Primary elections aren't general elections MORE, who will be actively working to elect Democrats in the midterms. He told me how inspired he is by the student movement.

What was exhilarating and powerful about the marches—and what gives the students real electoral power to change the course of history — is the intense outpouring of love, support and voting power for them from their moms and dads, grandmas and grandpas, teachers, neighbors and friends of all ages.

Something big is happening in American politics.

Democrats won many shocking and unexpected victories in 2017 and early 2018.  More than 100 House Republicans were elected from districts that supported President TrumpDonald John TrumpSchiff blasts Trump for making 'false claims' about Russia intel: 'You've betrayed America. Again.' Poll: Sanders leads 2020 Democratic field with 28 percent, followed by Warren and Biden More than 6 in 10 expect Trump to be reelected: poll MORE by 20 points or less.  Even they are not politically safe in 2018.

In 2017, there was a huge surge of activism of women, from Hollywood women supporting all women who have been abused, to the Women’s March forces who announced a project to register more than 1 million new voters. In 2018, there is a huge wave of activism from young people who are powerfully motivated and consider registering millions of new voters a defining purpose of their movement.

The power of the student movement that is marching on the midterms is that they inspire support throughout a great American family that cares deeply about them and will prove that the times are changing for America in 2018.

Budowsky was an aide to former Sen. Lloyd Bentsen (D-Texas) and former Rep. Bill Alexander (D-Ark.), who was chief deputy majority whip of the U.S. House of Representatives. He holds an LLM in international financial law from the London School of Economics.