Why should young people vote Democrat? As a lifelong Democrat and political activist, I have a lot of ideas: because young people care about the environment, affordable college tuition, good jobs, and equal rights for women. Gay marriage is not the problem for young voters that it still is for older citizens. Also, most young voters don't understand why we are discussing access to birth control or whether a woman is capable of making her own health care decisions.
One comment I hear quite frequently is that young people don't feel heard within the Republican Party, that their issues are not addressed, and that what matters to them is not what matters to older, conservative voters.
To better understand what young voters want from their political party, I went directly to them. Will Townsend, a sophomore at UCCS, stated, 'We realize that the outdated politics of the tea party and the GOP will not secure a strong and competitive America, and, in fact, will put us at a disadvantage in a global economy. '
The world is changing, rapidly. The country that we grew up in, with a strong manufacturing base and a vibrant middle class, is not that same country that young voters find now. Townsend continues, 'We want to succeed, we want to contribute to the workforce, and we want to change the way the world works. Only the Democratic Party is able to accept the fluidity of the world and propose modern changes that can help us acquire the ability to compete in a swiftly evolving economy. '
Democrats have worked to make college accessible to all students. The Obama administration has increased the amount of money awarded in Pell Grants and the number of recipients has increased by 50 percent. Student loan debt continues to be a burden, but the administration instituted a pay-as-you-earn program, which ties loan repayment to income. The Republican Party talks a lot about the national debt and cutting spending. Young voters like Townsend, however, recognize that 'true fiscal responsibility requires a diverse portfolio of investments. '
Young voters care deeply about global warming and continued assaults on the environment. A volunteer, and young voter, states, 'Our party realizes that the destruction of the planet puts at risk future generations and it has taken stances to help construct an economy with an abundance of jobs while fostering a healthy environment. Young Americans like myself desire the security of quality jobs, and only the Democratic Party has taken positions that promote adaptation in an ever globalizing economy. '
More than any other issue though, it is the Republican Party's current platform of social intolerance that chases away young voters. Townsend posits, 'The success of the Democratic Party lays in the integration of contemporary notions into our party platform. '
Exit polling in 2012 showed that President Barack Obama captured 67 percent of the youth vote in contrast to Gov. Mitt Romney's 30 percent. Young voters overwhelmingly vote Democrat because the Democratic Party represents them and welcomes them.
Christy Le Lait is the executive director of the El Paso County Democratic Party. Contact her via email: firstname.lastname@example.org.