Yesterday morning, while watching Morning Joe, a conversation came up about the ever-changing 2016 GOP presidential field. When the discussion turned to who would be the best candidate for young voters, I watched in horror as three old guys pontificated about what young folks are thinking.
Now to be honest, this occurrence is not new in our current media landscape, but this time -- a huge light bulb went off. GOP governors all across this country know how important the youth vote is, they know that youth voters change electoral outcomes and that is why they work day and night to suppress, disenfranchise and discount our vote.
And with the recent supreme court decision McCutcheon vs. FEC practically abolishing campaign spending limits, the youth vote will become more and more critical to getting folks that care about our youth issues elected to office.
As our generation approaches the ballot box, we know that our democracy hangs in the balance. We know that our vote will be the difference between a health care system that works, and one that limits someone's ability to go to the doctor. We know that our vote will be the difference between real love and love dictated by some backwards religious theology. We know that our vote will be the difference between a government that levels the playing field and one that tilts the playing field in favor of the rich.
We know all of this to be true, but we cannot stand down and watch as older folks try to dictate our future and pontificate about what we are going to do in the upcoming election. Our generation is one of the most diverse, informed and socially conscious this nation has ever seen and we can speak for ourselves! Which brings me to the light bulb that went off yesterday -- is our generation doing everything we can to own our voice and our vote?
To answer this, there are a couple of questions we can ask ourselves:
1) Is our generation harnessing the power of media to communicate on our issues?
No. While a couple of cable networks have turned to young hosts to help boost their ratings, young people can be doing a lot more to get our issues covered in the mainstream media. It starts by being proactive about pushing our issues to the forefront.
The one thing I can guarantee is that if 5,000 young people show up to the U.S. Capitol to demand change on student loan debt, the network cameras will show-up. This is just one example of what can be done to harness the media.
2) Is the media doing the best job to cater to younger viewers?
No! This fact is rather shocking to be honest. The 25-54 demographic (key demographic for advertisers) is 38 percent Millennials. If networks want to bring in those advertising dollars they have to get us to tune-in. This is a power point here folks, now is the time to start demanding more coverage of our issues, more diversity, more inclusive speech, and greater focus on our communities from cable news, and when we do not get it -- let's turn off those TVs!
3) Are we creating our own media?
Yes! As part of the youth media movement, I am proud to say that our generation has worked extremely hard to create our own media. We are keeping our generation informed, empowered and active. But to be honest, now is the time to do more. Not only do we need to start creating more youth media sources, but we need to start supporting the ones we already have in the marketplace by driving traffic in their direction.
4) How does media connect to voting rights?
Well, Ernestine Rose once stated "Agitate! Agitate! Ought to be the motto of every reformer." We are the generation of reformers and that means we must use every medium possible to agitate and organize. Media is one of those mediums that we consume, but we do not engage and agitate. If we harness the power of media, we can turn the tides on our voting rights and ultimately reclaim our voice in the political process.
If we all work together on this, we will soon be able to turn on the TV and see young folks talking about youth issues and fighting against political parties that want to use money, influence, and power to drown out the voices of the righteous.
Hear more of my thoughts on the McCutcheon vs. FEC decision:
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