We’ve all been having fun with government shutdown memes and government shutdown pick-up lines, but the consequences of Congress’ latest hiccup has hurt Americans across the country and will have much farther-reaching effects on young people than stopping us from going to the zoo.
Besides once again demonstrating Congressional incompetence, the government shutdown and debt ceiling debate has shown Congress’ current inability to govern for our future. As pushed by an American Progress report, failure to raise the debt ceiling would have the harshest effect on young Americans by severely affecting job markets, student loans, the housing market, and the economy overall. Even without the debt ceiling immediately hanging over our heads, the federal government cannot function indefinitely without substantial change. Putting off dealing with the bad policies will only add to the burden on young people that we are already struggling to bear.
On September 18, 2013, Congressman Aaron Schock (R-IL) and Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard (D-HI) partnered with the Millennial Action Project to launch the Congressional Future Caucus, the first Congressional caucus led by Millennials, which aims to focus on developing long-term solutions to issues facing America’s next generation. Millennial involvement in politics through such steps may help to enhance young Americans’ voices in policies that affect our future, but organizations like the Future Caucus must not fade into the background like too many other congressional caucuses (ever heard of the Congressional Bourbon Caucus?). Furthermore, young people must make Congress understand that we are just as much to be reckoned with as our parents and grandparents. Congress may be losing Americans’, and the world’s, trust, but the solution is not to avoid civic engagement. For example, the youth vote empowered Obama to his presidency, yet Project Vote found that 21 million citizens under 30 did not vote in 2008. How much can the votes of millennials change elections this year, or in 2014, or 2016?
On Voter Registration Day this year, Politics Club held a voter registration drive and updated the registration of over 100 students. Also, on October 3rd, Politics Club hosted a bake sale and raised over $100 in donations that will go to veterans in Portland whose benefits were affected by the government shutdown. The club is furthermore in the process of sending a letter to our Congressman Earl Blumenauer (OR-3) regarding LC students’ response to the shutdown, and will have a meeting next Tuesday at 5pm in JRHH 116, open to all students, for more political discussion.
In a National Journal article, Ron Fournier stated that “There will come a time when Millennials aren’t just mad as hell; they won’t take it anymore.” Millennials must show government that we will not stand for their partisan antics and I hope that time is now.