Many millennials are deeply frustrated by the “my way or the highway” approach plaguing Washington, keeping anything substantial from being done to promote economic recovery and job growth.
The frustration of millennials is compounded by the fact that, five years after the Great Recession, economic growth remains slow, making it difficult for them to find stable, good-paying jobs and pay down the significant debt they have been saddled with.
As the youngest member of Congress and a millennial myself, I understand this frustration. How can our generation expect to plan for the future when we’re so uncertain about the present?
Unfortunately, many millennials are reacting to this frustrating by dropping out of the political process. According to a survey by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, just 23 percent of 18 to 29-year-olds say they plan to vote this November.
But the youth vote that was so decisive in 2008 cannot now afford to silence itself.
Many are coming out of college and graduate school with tens of thousands of dollars, if not more, in student loan debt, yet they are unable to find work. If they are fortunate enough to become employed, it’s often not in their chosen fields.
It doesn’t have to be this way. By coming together, not as Democrats or Republicans, liberals or conservatives, but as colleagues and as Americans, Congress should create an environment conducive to continued economic growth.
If we are to strengthen our workforce and compete in today’s global economy, we must ensure that we are making smart investments in educational and training programs and supporting policies that provide our workers with 21st century skill sets.
At a time when other countries are getting ahead, we can’t let ourselves fall behind.
Of course, if we are to truly create an environment that fosters economic and job growth, we must tackle our nation’s fiscal challenges in a responsible manner. This means taking a balanced approach to deficit reduction, which can be done by cutting wasteful government spending while continuing to invest in areas that have a high return on investment.
While it’s crucial that Congress acts to help our economy recover, it’s just as important that our generation demand a voice at the table. Many decisions made in Congress today are guaranteed to have a greater impact on us than on our parents and grandparents.
Issues like addressing our debt, growing our economy, and protecting Medicare and Social Security for future generations disproportionately affect millennials.
That is why I created a bipartisan group of freshmen members of Congress that is working together to find common-sense solutions to get our fiscal house in order and ensure that America continues to be the greatest nation for years to come. Millennials must be involved in the process — and that starts with getting out the vote.
There will certainly be people who believe millennials are too young and inexperienced to make a real difference. But if you couple your passion with a sense of purpose, and if you put in the long hours that success requires, age does not matter.
I am proud to be part of a generation that works tremendously hard, is so supportive of the American ideal and value of equality, and is focused on problem-solving and big-picture issues rather than petty political bickering.
Let’s commit to working together and using our fresh perspective to tackle our nation’s challenges and build a brighter future for our nation, millennials and all. So as this Election Day approaches, remember to make your voice heard by getting out the vote.