​Democrats must empower students, not use them, to win in 2018

Democrats must develop policies that young people care about in order to succeed

Tuning into CNN, I watched Democratic strategists discuss how they need millennials to vote in order to win. A repeated phrase that feels more cliche than your grandparents asking you at Thanksgiving what you’re doing with your life (answer: we have no idea).

While I agree that millennials need to vote, millennials also deserve a reason to vote for Democrats. There will always be a certain group that will vote no matter what, but for the majority, they need policies they can get behind. 

See CounterpointPolitical parties should look beyond their bases.

And regardless of your political opinion, this last general election did not excite young people. 

After November 8th, I knew I had to get even more involved in party politics and help other young progressive millennials get elected to higher office. I ran and was elected by my legislative Democratic Party to the Arizona Democratic State Committee. There I helped elect other millennials to the Democratic Executive Committee, the highest office of Party officials. One young man we helped elect was named Jevin Hodge.

Hodge a young firebrand, wants to engage young people, not just for their vote, but for their ideas.

“When we can get people to fall in love with the process, not just success, we will win,” Jevin said following a local meeting for Democrats in Glendale.

It occurred to me that far too often, the Democratic Party takes young people who are interested in politics and burns them out of it. For example, field organizers are some of the toughest positions during a campaign, and when they are being worked 80-90 hours a week, it’s not helpful to the cause, because they likely leave politics completely afterwards. This is in part due to the pressure placed on short-term wins.

More so, we need to learn how to put young people in places they want to be. Maybe they don’t want to make phone calls, but they can write some pretty fired up texts to other young people. Maybe they aren’t the best on the phone, but they can create a campaign image that the Facebook page can use. 

Everything helps, and while certain aspects of a campaign will always require us to go outside of our comfort zones, we need young people to feel like they have a place here and aren't just another number.

To do this, we can’t just build a political party, we need to build a movement. Our mission can’t just be that we are anti-Trump; it must be that we stand for good public policy. This is what students want from their politics, not just attack ads on television. Anti-Trump sentiments only go so far, and we learned that lesson in 2016. 

Young people deserve better.

As far as engaging millennials goes, Hodge said, “We’re working on it. It’s one of those things that, will you ever be good enough? No, that’s why you always have to keep sharpening the tools you have, redefining what you have, and investing in the structure you’ve created.”

I think it’s time for the Democratic Party to be investing in more people like millennials like Jevin Hodge.

Reach the columnist at jarwood@asu.edu or follow @jimsthebeast on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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