I feel like I can’t escape the 2016 election. Every time I log on Facebook, read the news or even turn on the radio, I see and hear friends, pundits and analysts weighing in on how much longer Donald Trump can stay in the race. The candidates are constantly soliciting us for our money to fund their campaigns and our time knocking on doors, but we are never asked for our ideas. Millennials are the largest voting block in America, and it is time for our ideas on public policy to be taken seriously. We aren’t as apathetic, lazy and reckless as some may think. We have ideas to change the problems we are inheriting.
During this election, cycle candidates have talked at us. They tell us what their donors want to hear, but they don’t listen to what we want and the solutions we can offer. We live in our various communities and see problems on a local level. We see the nuance in our community challenges and celebrate the complexity of the solutions needed. Policy can’t be cookie-cutter, and it can’t always be made to be copy and paste from community to community in hopes that it will work out.
How can we expect more if the system we currently have isn’t working? The last GOP debate was more like a bad circus act instead of a debate about substantive changes. CNN was more concerned about keeping people watching what can only be described as a bad car crash rather than providing any substantive conversation over how to move America forward. During the three-hour marathon of nonsense, there was barely a single mention of policy changes put forward. Instead, I wasted that time hearing all of the candidates bicker back and forth about how they weren’t getting enough time to tear each other down. The candidates appealed to fear and talked about restricting access to health services for women and building a wall bigger than the one in China, thinking this is what the people wanted to hear. People want to hear real solutions that rethink and re-imagine the rules that govern our society to make our country prosper for all instead of a select few.
On both sides of the aisle we need to have serious conversations about the problems plaguing us as a society. Problems like climate change, affordable higher education, the militarization of police and the loss of innocent life through police violence, the privatization of prisons, our unjust criminal system and the rampant inequality facing America. Not only do we need avenues to have these conversation, we need solutions. We need to become part of the process and make sure our voices are heard. We are worth more than our wallets and our ability to canvas. Instead of treating young people as a special interest group, candidates should listen when we talk and work with us to create solutions. I refuse to believe our political system is too broken to fix. I urge you to re-imagine the rules not as they are but what they could be, to build an election focused on the policy solutions. I urge you to tell your candidates we deserve more than what we have now and we don’t stand for anything less. We deserve a government by us, for us, that believes in the power of the people.
Madelyn Schorr is a senior majoring in art and anthropology. Her column runs biweekly.