by Bethany Bowra
Youth interest is a key that seems to elude all things remotely political; my generation, known for its apathetic and careless behavior, has thus far been content to allow our futures to be decided by big-government elitists who seek to use their power selfishly. Most of my peers view politics as something that won’t affect them for “at least another 10 years,” so they see no real reason to step in and get involved today. Efforts to change this perspective must be performed urgently and significantly if we truly want to preserve this country– no cause can survive more than a generation or two if it fails to purposely train up new leaders who can carry the torch into the future. This weekend, True the Vote proved, by giving high-schoolers the opportunity to address the summit’s attendees, that they are dedicated to making this engagement a reality.
I had the privilege of joining Tanner Brumbarger and Cesar Ruiz as the youngest speakers at this year’s True the Vote national summit.
Ruiz shared his thoughts on engaging Latino youth who, despite what many believe, do want to be fully immersed in America’s election system because this is our America. “This is the country we love,” Ruiz said. He continued: “We have a chance to vote our values– make our voice heard– yet we remain stagnant.” He stressed the importance of reaching out to minority youth and sharing the message of election integrity with them. All political issues stem from election integrity– party affiliation, conventions, key issues and the like. Ruiz stressed the importance of engaging Latino youth in the election integrity process. Many Latino countries require photo ID and have strict laws to protect the integrity of their election systems; since they may already be familiar with such practices, use that familiarity to convey the importance of election integrity in the United States. As Ruiz said, this is the country they love, so let’s keep that in mind when reaching out to them.
This is the type of message that needs to be spread far and wide– how to reach Latino young people, coming directly from a Latino young person. True the Vote gave Ruiz the platform necessary to share this message with a large audience who can then help him push it out to other sources.
Following Ruiz’s speech, Tanner Brumbarger and I had the opportunity to share a series of points we developed, called “10 Keys to Youth Involvement.” In a discussion called FutureChoice, we had the chance to share our ideas with some of the most active and vocal folks in the country in the area of election integrity; it was crucial for these activists to hear about youth outreach and was equally crucial for Brumbarger and I to share that message.
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