Last week the Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case that could bring marriage equality to every state in the country. The fact that they're even hearing this case, let alone are on the verge of extending this right across the country, is a direct result of the power young people have demonstrated in recent years when it comes to shaping our country's future. It also showcases the opportunity for our generation to do more, and that's an opportunity we can't afford to let slip by. We need to be even more engaged in the political process because if we don't, the future we live in will be shaped without our input.
According to Pew Research, 67 percent of young Americans support marriage equality. And if the court ultimately decides to extend this right to all states, young people should take pride in knowing that their views played a significant role in forcing and shaping this debate. Beyond exercising our power at the ballot box in recent elections, and as an extension, support for marriage equality, young people are also being credited for lobbying and changing the minds of the older generation by simply forcing a dialogue about how our generation approaches this debate. In fact, it has been reported that many politicians have altered their position on marriage equality in large part because of conversations they've had with their millennial children, a fact that highlights how these conversations are just as important as voting in elections.
This cultural shift is obviously significant. But where we go from here is just as important. There are 93 million of us in America right now, and as a result, we have the potential to be the most powerful voting bloc in the country. Imagine what we could do if we harnessed that number, and the power that comes with it, into action at the ballot box? Politicians would not only be forced to listen to our views but similarly be forced to act upon them. If not, they'd know that we would hold them accountable in the next election.
In the same way that so many young people were at the forefront of the civil rights movement in the 1960s, we can and should shape the future of our country on other issues that matter to us, regardless of what they are.
Politicians are ultimately responsible to the voters every election. The people who make our laws, the laws they write, and the way they're enforced and interpreted -- the whole system is a direct reflection of our engagement at the ballot box. We need to recognize that reality, show up, and participate, because if we don't, the future that we will inherit will be shaped without us. We can't afford to let that happen.
Ashley Spillane is the president of Rock the Vote, the largest nonprofit and nonpartisan organization in the country building the political power of young people. You can register to vote at www.rockthevote.com/register.
How will Donald Trump’s first 100 days impact YOU? Subscribe, choose the community that you most identify with or want to learn more about and we’ll send you the news that matters most once a week throughout Trump’s first 100 days in office. Learn more