I could not help but notice two outstanding Sun Devils who have taken it upon themselves to run for office: alumnus Taylor McArthur and ASU sophomore Nick Forbes. I applaud them for their commitment to serve our community. I’m sure they have many great qualifications, and I’m sure they’re all-around terrific individuals.
This column is a challenge to McArthur and Forbes, as well as any current or former Sun Devils who want to start a career in public service or politics.
Like many Americans, I’m growing very disillusioned with our Congress. Last year’s government shutdown was the epitome of my frustration with our current legislators. Why does our government seem to be so damn incompetent? Another year has passed, and there is no comprehensive immigration reform. It’s taken six years since the economic recession to talk about raising the minimum wage. The list goes on.
I believe the problem with our Congress is that the very backgrounds of current politicians have set them up for failure. In an episode of Bill Maher’s talk show, astrophysicist Neil deGrasse Tyson explains that more than 50 percent of Congress comes from a law background.
One would think that law degrees would be a strong prerequisite for congresspeople, but that’s the problem. All these politicians have been trained to argue and not agree on anything.
Where is the rest of society in Congress? Where are the scientists on science and technology committees? Where are the school teachers on education committees? Where are the veterans on armed forces committees? Why aren’t people who have actual experiences in these areas making the decisions in our government?
The most shocking statistic that I encountered is that 80 percent of Congress lacks an academic background in business economics. Also, the number of veterans in congress is at 20 percent, the lowest in American history.
Many believe young people are not interested in politics, because it’s filled with a bunch of old people who are disconnected with our youth. This may be true in many instances, but I think current college students who are looking to go into politics need to re-evaluate their ambitions.
I will not vote for someone just because they are closer to my age; that notion is a bit condescending. It’s same reasoning when politicians are trying to get the “women vote,” because they think all women are the same.
I cannot wait for the day that the Millennial generation leads and inhabits Congress, I really can’t. But I don’t want that day to come now; I want my generation to run for Congress when we’re experienced in professions that are as diverse as this country.
Many think young people voted for Obama in the last two elections because he is closer to our age, but I disagree. Young voters elected Obama in overwhelming numbers because he did not talk to us like children, but rather, as a future worth investment.
I don’t want Millennials to run for office until they’ve lived. Until they experienced heartbreak, borderline poverty, struggles and met people who are completely unlike them. Contrary to what some people think, I will not vote for someone simply because he or she is young. To be honest, I have an innate distrust for people in their 20s running for public office. Our brains do not even fully develop until well into our twenties.
Clinical psychologist Dr. Meg Jay explains how 30 is not the new 20. Our 20s are not meant for waiting until we’re older to deal with complex problems. Our 20s are meant for failure; for trying things and realizing that’s not what we want to do; for challenging ourselves; for working hard and for developing new points of view.
This is why I’m distrustful of young people running for office. Not only are our brains not fully developed, but we’ve yet to actually live. How can I trust someone to make the laws I must abide by if their only goal is to be a politician at such a young age?
Writing this column reminded me of a poem I enjoy reading. This poem gives me hope for the Millennial generation who will one day be in Congress. It’s titled, “I want a dyke for president.” The writer explains their sentiments about the disconnect of politicians from the people they’re supposed to serve.
“And I want to know why this isn’t possible. I want to know why we started learning somewhere down the line that a president is always a clown: always a John and never a hooker. Always a boss and never a worker, always a liar, always a thief but never caught.”
Reach the columnist at firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter @gilromeo92