Young people want to be inspired. Be engaged and involved. And make meaningful decisions. But most of all, they want to change the world. The Democratic Party can and should be the vehicle they use to bring that change.
Millennials match baby boomers as the largest generation in the electorate. Yet, it is estimated that only one in five Millennial voters will vote in 2018. Democrats must earn the support of Millennials.
But we have work to do. Only 4 in 10 young voters identified themselves with the Democratic Party (only slightly better than 3 in 10 for Republicans).
We have to be honest about the barriers that exist between young people and the Democratic Party: distrust in political leaders, feelings of inconsequence leading to apathy, an ever more crowded digital and media world, and old-fashioned, ineffective modes of organizing.
The DNC needs a tune up. We need to expand the voice of young people in decision making in the party, provide the College Democrats, Young Democrats of America (YDA), and High School Democrats of America with the resources to succeed, build a bench of young candidates, boost engagement with young people by communicating our values, and protect young peoples’ access to the ballot box.
It will take all of us – elected officials, activists, and rank-and-file Democrats – to give the next generation the tools they need to succeed. Here is how we start.
A VOICE IN DECISION MAKING
Engaging young people is the key to winning elections across the country. Getting young people engaged at all levels is the cornerstone to an energetic and effective party.
The DNC must:
- Ensure youth voices are provided an expanded role in day to day DNC decision-making.
- Improve youth representation within the DNC, actively encouraging College Democrats and YDA, young elected officials and other young leaders to seek positions of responsibility in the DNC.
RESOURCES FOR SUCCESS
The Republican National Committee makes significant investments in youth organizing. During the 2016 cycle, they provided more than $5 million in organizing resources for college and young Republicans.
The DNC must:
- Expand its support of the College Democrats and YDA, including direct financial assistance.
- Hire a full-time Executive Director for the College Democrats and a youth-focused staffer to facilitate work with YDA and other young Democrats.
- Provide frequent and accessible trainings on the state and local level to grow chapters and build up the next generation of leaders.
- Build a fundraising track that allows donors and young people to finance the programs they will implement.
BUILD A BENCH
We need young candidates running for office at all levels, and we need to recruit them, train them and help them win.
The DNC must:
- Sponsor DNC-led candidate training programs to help win local and state races, creating diverse qualified candidates ready to run for higher office.
- Measure our long-term performance in recruiting diverse candidates to run, and in helping recruited and trained candidates win.
- Have prominent surrogates engaging young audiences everywhere – from college or high school speeches, to viral videos – promoting public service and encouraging them to run for office.