By: Sarah Brill and Courtney Marks
A few weeks ago, when the YU club list came out, we discovered that the College Democrats was not listed. We did not receive this notice from the Student Council via email, but rather found out when we were approached to comment on the matter for the YU Commentator. About three days following the news, we were notified that our club had been reinstated. It is a sad truth that our own peers would want to physically and mentally toy with us. A college without College Democrats would be wrong and everyone, including the College Republicans, understood and understands that. The College Democrats, just like the College Republicans, play a vital role in maintaining an environment where we can respectfully disagree with one another on many matters, and both clubs provide an outlet for students of like-minds to connect and discuss the political climate.
It is essential to have both the College Democrats and the College Republicans on campus. America was founded as the first modern democracy and we believe it is critical that our school embodies that. This includes having campus student body governments, and also applies to having a presence from both major political parties on our campuses. 78% of American Jews voted for Democrats in the 2018 midterm elections, whether or not this statistic reflects the views of our university is irrelevant because we know that there are many students who are registered Democrats or believe in progressive ideologies. These students who believe in what the Democrats stand for — whether it is LGBTQ+ rights, safe and humane immigration reform, or any other number of issues — deserve a voice on campus. They deserve to hear about the political issues that concern them just as other political parties, whether at YU or on another college campus, get to voice their issues, and have an impact on democracy.
A major issue, however, facing many eligible voters is the lack of turnout at the polls come election time. Many of our peers, in the 2016 election season, stated that their voice didn’t matter whether they voted or not. They stated that they are only one person out of millions voting. While this may be true, it is also a fact that if that one person has that mentality, the same could be said for a great deal more. In 2016, there were approximately 24 million votes under 30 years old. This is out of the 71 million people under 30 as of 2016. As many of the Generation Z population were unable to vote in the 2016 election, we looked to the millennials to choose the right candidate. Unfortunately, they failed to show up at the polls. Many people may also say that their vote doesn’t matter because regardless of the popular vote, the electoral college may sway in another direction, as we saw in the 2016 election where 46.1% of the popular vote was for President Trump and 48.2% for Clinton. However, despite this fact, we the people have an obligation to vote, and we as college students, whether you are Republican or Democrat, have the right and privilege to vote — so exercise that right.
Not only should we, as young voters, be voting in every election, but we must all be making informed votes. Knowing what ballot measures will be decided at a state or local level makes one an informed voter. As the next presidential election approaches and primaries are underway, it is the responsibility of our generation to not only vote but to also know who we are voting for and why. It is our responsibility to vote for the things that matter to us most and for the candidates that stand up for those values and have viable, bold policy plans to get those objectives done.
It is not only within the context of the election cycle that young voters and young people must get involved. When you feel like politics do not affect your life, think about how politics affect the lives of those around you. Think about Muslim parents fearing that their children will be targeted at school. Think about the child of an immigrant worried constantly about their parents being torn away from them. Think about the black boy who fears for his life every time he sees a police officer. Think about the young girl who said “no” but now has to give birth to the child of her rapist. Think about your gay friend who fears they might get fired from their job for being who they are. Recognize that just because you have the privilege to simply debate politics, you not voting affects the people, whether you know them or not, and your silence, not just on election day but everyday, puts those people in harm’s way.
You and I, all of us, we are the young voters. In 2020, one out of ten eligible voters will be from Gen Z, meaning born after 1996, which includes much of our university’s population. Gen Z, along with Millennial voters, make up 27% of eligible voters together, and have more power as a voting bloc than Baby Boomers do. We have the potential to be the most engaged young generation, and we can rise up as a collective voice. We empower you all to take advantage of all this democracy has to offer you, although at times it may seem overwhelming, heart breaking, and sometimes terrifying, we have the power to make an impact.