Crossposted on Medium
We cannot sit back, stand aside, and remain absent, or — worse — apathetic, as our leaders dictate to millennials the terms of our future. We are, in fact, the ones we’ve been waiting for. In Shauna Shames’ February 24 article, “Millennials Don’t Want to Run for Office,” she warned us that “democracy loses out if new generations of potential political leaders are discouraged from throwing their hats in the ring.”
Citing a recent study conducted by Harvard’s Institute of Politics, she notes that in line with the general public, millennials have grown increasingly disenchanted with the state of our government, one mired in constant gridlock and partisan gamesmanship. Young people, awakened by the call for hope and change in 2008, have turned away from politics as a means to bring about positive societal change.
In an effort to refocus the energy, passion, and commitment to bettering our country, LaunchProgress Action Fund and LaunchProgress Political Action Committee, were launched in 2013. LaunchProgress PAC works across the country to prepare a new generation of leaders to run for state and local office by recruiting and supporting new, diverse young leaders from underrepresented backgrounds. Emphasizing the progressive values shared by the majority of millennial voters — economic justice, civic participation and democratic inclusion, environmentalism, civil rights, social and gender equality, and accessible education — LaunchProgress PAC supports young candidates who may otherwise not have seriously considered public office to take the leap and risk to do so.
The millennial generation, the most diverse in our nation’s history, confronts a world with serious unresolved challenges, political issues neglected decade after decade by our forefathers. For this reason, LaunchProgress focuses on new, underrepresented, young progressives, providing them with financial and technical support, including mentoring and strategic advice from seasoned campaign professional and young elected officials (some of whom started as LaunchProgress candidates).
Non-traditional candidates, whether women, people of color, members of the LGBT community or millennials, consistently rate as the most significant barrier preventing them from running for office to be the need to raise vast sums of money to mount a competitive campaign. At LaunchProgress, we say, we’re here to help!
While the average cost of winning a campaign for Congress exceeds $1 million, a competitive state or local race can be won for as little as ten to fifty thousand dollars (the mean in 2012 was just under $25,000). These sums are within reach of first-time, younger candidates who have support and basic training.
Millennial-aged candidates can be encouraged to run by seeing stories of success, and role models that can be emulated. LaunchProgress Action Fund highlights and promotes the stories of millennials’ success in politics. Shining a light on young candidates who have led the way for others and sharing resources at engaging our peers, other young voters, in the political process.
The US is set to be a majority-minority nation by the year 2050. The future of America looks much different than its past. The changing face of America requires political bodies that reflect them. Our elected officials remain far older, whiter, and wealthier than the constituents they serve. We’re actively working to alter this current reality by ensuring our generation emerges prepared for victory.
We will sit on the sidelines at our own peril. We have difficult choices ahead of us. Student debt, immigration, affordable education, social security, and health care are all pressing issues that will have a profound impact on our generation, and yet they will not be solved without our input. Our current leaders have demonstrated their unwillingness, or incapacity, to tackle our nation’s largest issues. We can, and we will. The future is ours.
Stephen Eisele is a Candidate Advisory Board member of LaunchProgress Political Action Committee, a state-based PAC that supports young progressives running for state and local office. Follow Stephen on Twitter @stepheneisele