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Tori Taylor Headshot

Strengthening the State of Our Union

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After all the doors are knocked, votes are counted and the election night celebrations end, our work begins anew. College Democrats of America is not just about the investment for Election Day, but the day after the election. It's about continuing our momentum and cultivating the next generation of leadership.

This is exactly why young Americans are recommitting to the path forward President Obama laid out in the State of the Union this week. We already know young Americans were a decisive voting bloc in the 2012 election cycle; it wasn't a fluke. But showing up at the voting booth isn't enough. It's time to get involved and serve our country and the next generation by helping the president move this country forward.

On Tuesday President Obama spoke directly to American people about how we can make America a magnet for jobs and manufacturing, equip every American with the skills they need to do those jobs, and ensure hard work earns a decent living by raising the minimum wage and making sure women receive equal pay for equal work.

The president laid out plans to make sure every child, no matter the circumstances of their birth, has access to high quality preschool, high school, and college or technical education, and he's committed to ensuring affordability. He promised to release "a new 'College Scorecard' that parents and students can use to compare schools based on a simple criteria -- where you can get the most bang for your educational buck," because the president recognizes the power of a quality education as the foundation of the American economy.

He voiced the reality that "our economy is stronger when we harness the talents and ingenuity of striving, hopeful immigrants." And while the president has already heeded those shouts for change from millions of college students by implementing a new program that will allow up to 1.7 million young undocumented immigrants to remain in the U.S. for school or work, there is still so much more he wants to accomplish because together, we can build a fair, effective and commonsense immigration system.

And while the president spoke with emotion about ensuring the protection of our kids and our communities, he urged Congress to take action against gun violence and give Newtown, Gabby Giffords, the families of Aurora and every American affected by gun violence each year what they deserve, a simple up or down vote in Congress.

So find your voice and get involved in the causes you believe in. Too often, young people make the mistake of thinking politics doesn't affect them or is just for economic or political science majors; but that isn't so. All of our voices matter.

Young Americans are our country's present and future. We are the next generation of policy makers, community leaders, public servants and CEOs. It's imperative that we become active in the future, engage our peers, and lead now, because the policies being deliberated will impact the lives of our friends, family, and neighbors.

This isn't about politics; it's about public service. It's not about the pundits or poll numbers; it's about making a quality education a right, not a privilege; building an immigration system that lives up to our heritage as a nation of laws and a nation of immigrants; and creating a world where movie theaters, schools and parks are public places where everyone can feel safe.

It's time for young Americans to take initiative. Think critically. Raise your hand. Ask questions. Be bold. Earn a seat at the table. Make decisions. Get involved. As the president said, we all share the same title of citizen, and with that title comes the responsibility and obligation "to be the authors of the next great chapter of our American story."