Young Invincibles Visit Hays to discuss civic engagement among young people

BY DANIEL SAENZ

Millennials have undoubtedly faced a great deal of roadblocks in regards to economic opportunities as well as political representation. Our generation came of age during the 2008 financial crash. Also, wage-stagnation and the constant advancement of technology has dramatically altered the workforce. This, coupled with the increasing epidemic of student loan debt has made it difficult for millennials to accumulate as much as the generations before them. Millennials have only accumulated half of the net wealth that the Baby Boomers did at the same age. As of now, today’s workers earn 20% less in income.

There is also plenty of disparity in regards to health care in the United States. Millennials have made significant gains in this area due to the Affordable Care Act, as it has granted health care to over 8 million people. It has also helped that young adults were able to stay on their parents’ health insurance until the age of 26.

Despite the numerous gains made with the ACA, millions remain uninsured due to the current tension between the ACA and the various state and local politicians who do not want to implement it due to their disagreements with it. In a very infamous case, the governor of Maine refused to fully implement the ACA even though the citizens have voted to do so on numerous occasions.

Civic engagement is also an issue for young millennials as they are currently struggling to vote and make their voices heard. In the last presidential election, only 45% of college students voted, which is already a modest number. In the last midterm elections, only 18% of college students voted. That is a worrying number for a group that is already struggling to make their voices heard.

The Young Invincibles is a group whose mission is to address the disparities that millennials face in regards to economic opportunities, access to health care, and political representation. However, out of all these issues, the Young Invincibles focus primarily on voting — as it is elected officials who represent us and determine all the rest.

So, the organization leads the Students Learn Students Vote coalition — a group of 90 non-partisan organizations that operate a great deal of voter registration drives. In fact, on Monday evening, the FHSU American Democracy Project helped bring Clarissa Unger, one of the representatives of the Young Invincibles to the Hays Public Library to give a speech summarizing these main points. She even sat down for an interview to provide further details of the issues that the Young Invincibles attempt to address.

Healthcare is a very sensitive topic, so this can be tricky for non-partisan organizations to try and address.

“A lot of the issues that we work on that include healthcare, we work with congressmen and senators from both sides of the aisle,” Unger said. “Despite the fact that healthcare has definitely become more politicized, at the end of the day, we continue to fight for everyone to be insured.”

There is also the main question of why voting is important in the first place, which Unger and Young Invincibles champion for.

“Voting is a way to show for your communities and young people have historically been underrepresented in our democratic process for one reason or another,” Unger said. “That can be because young people are just new to the process and they overestimate how difficult it is to vote, or there are people who quite frankly, do not want young people to have the ability to vote. So, there are often times laws that are put in place to prevent people from doing so.

“But, the laws that elected officials put into place are ones that can be responsive to their voters. In order for politicians to address the issues that are important to young people, we need to go out and vote.”

While it is definitely important to go out and vote, this then raised the question of how to accomplish this feat of mobilizing the youth to go out and do so. First, it is important to register and to be mindful of deadlines if one is not yet registered to vote. College students can also vote where they go to school, use absentee ballots, or early voting.

“In this election cycle, millennials will now be the largest voting block,” Unger said. “Honestly, we just have to show up.”

Regardless of our political affiliation, we should all make our voices heard this election cycle.

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