Voting map of young people aged 18-25, courtesy Eliza Byard. via Twitter
In every article I’ve read about you, one of the things that I see again and again is that you don’t just want to work, you want to work at something meaningful.
As the results of last night’s election show, you have just gotten the biggest opportunity and and the loudest call to action any generation has ever gotten. Our flawed system has been exposed, and the candidate who won the popular vote will not be our President.
You showed your passion in your support for Bernie Sanders. I get it — I supported Bernie Sanders, too, but I supported Hillary Clinton’s nomination after the party’s platform began to adopt some of his positions.
Right now, as the generation whose lives and paychecks will be most affected by a Trump presidency, you need to get organized.
So start running for office at the local level. Run for your school board. Run for your town council. Then run for your City Council. Run for your state legislature. Take jobs within your local government for the experience. Take jobs in worthy non-profits that fight for the rights of the disenfranchised.
Take jobs as teachers — no work is more meaningful — and share your progressive, inclusive values with the students you teach. Encourage your students to learn critical thinking. Encourage them to love science and math and history. I include history on the list of things our kids need, because if nothing else, an ignorance of history has as much a place in the success of a candidate like Donald Trump as anything else. And how our children are taught history has created a population of intellectually incompetent but extremely motivated voters. Buy a copy of “Lies My Teacher Taught Me” or “A People’s History of the United States” for every teenager you know.
When you hear someone saying racist or homophobic or sexist things in the workplace, call that shit out. Immediately and in writing to your HR departments. When you hear your friends saying racist or sexist or homophobic things, call that shit out. Tell them why it is racist or sexist or homophobic. If they persist, SHUN them. Invite the children of racist or sexist or homophobic people into your home and show them what inclusion and decency looks like.
Thanksgiving is in two weeks. Someone or maybe your entire family will probably say racist, homophobic, and sexist things. CALL THAT SHIT OUT. The bravest thing you may do this year may be to ruin Thanksgiving.
Millennial women, stop fucking racists, homophobes, or sexists. It just rewards and encourages them.
The LEAST-persecuted population of this country has been, up to now, the noisiest, and unfortunately they have been clever enough to steal the methods and language of actually-persecuted populations who fought and died for the equal rights that our Founding Fathers espoused in the Declaration of Independence and the Constitution. With “religious freedom” bills, they have legislated bigotry. With the gutting of the Voting Rights Act, they IMMEDIATELY began campaigns of voter suppression, which as we have seen, work.
Hillary Clinton won the popular vote. Remind yourselves of that (as I have done again and again this morning).
Progressive change does not start by throwing poorly-vetted third party candidates at a Presidential election. Progressive change starts in the school boards, town councils, and state legislatures. Progressive change starts with your children and the children of your friends and neighbors.
Progressive change is what has made this country great, and if you want it to continue, we have to do the work.