How America's new congress can be more effective

Posted by Blake Wright on November 11, 2014 at 2:46 PM

By Sam Gilman, Andrew Kaplan, Jake Clark, Tania Cohen, Mackenzie Marcotte, Sarah Jackson, Sidd Mandava, Veronica Velasco, Sumeeta Ghai, Juannel Riley, John Garrett Clawson, Liv Blanchette, Lauren Aragon, Nikki Hager, Maddie Gootman, Ted Kefalas, Marissa Espinoza, Tommy Joe Bednar

As election buzz and midterm punditry fade into the background, America has settled its electoral questions for the time being. Now, we face a more fundamental question: how will America’s leaders choose to govern?

One party may have a little more bounce in its step than the other. Now is the time for principled collaboration, so government can fulfill its essential purpose of advancing the American promise for generations to come. Red America and blue America must come together after the election to once again become one America. 

Much of the election coverage has cynically asked: what does 2014 mean for 2016? Will it bring a future Republican majority? What does it mean for the Democrats? Too little coverage has asked: what does it mean for the school children, the college students, and the young workforce that together make up the future of this country. What will it mean for us if we suffer another two years of gridlock?   

We are tired of political dysfunction, bickering, and inaction. 

The United States needs Congress and its State Houses across the country from Providence to Tulsa to tackle the biggest challenges facing our nation. Our problems are too large, our economy too fragile, our schools too weak, our spending too disorganized for us to spend another two years choosing partisan gridlock over principled collaboration. 

We urge Congress and our 50 state assemblies to pay attention to some of the Millennials working tirelessly to improve the political process.  Although Millennial turnout in the 2014 midterms stayed at its 20 year constant of around 20%, members of America’s youngest voters were highly active, vocal, and organized. Take Common Sense Action for example.  We prove every day that bipartisanship need not lead to the abandonment of party or principle. Our members have volunteered hundreds of hours for both Democratic and Republican candidates this election cycle. We honor partisanship as an important part of our policymaking process. Yet, we do not accept that politicking over the next election should permanently cloud the American horizon. We imagine a world of next-generation leadership where our elected leaders tackle our nation’s greatest challenges with entrepreneurial zeal.  

Taking action on their campuses and in their local communities, CSA leaders have worked tirelessly to increase Millennial political participation, educate our communities on major state and federal policy issues, and start intergenerational conversations.   

While CSA members put in hundreds of hours for candidates on both sides of the aisle, we facilitated the registration, education, and turnout of nearly 4,000 voters across the country. In addition, our chapters hosted dozens of conversations on key policy issues. Some highlights from CSA chapters across the country include: 

  1. Arizona State University hosted two former congressmen (a Republican and a Democrat) for two days of lectures, Q&A's, and policy discussions with students. The chapter also hosted the debate for the office of Arizona Secretary of State in October. 
  2. Boston University hosted an event called, "Coffee & Compromise," to take over a local coffee shop for a lunchtime discussion of controversial MA bills and distributed voter information guides for the midterm elections.
  3. Brown University hosted a conversation on income inequality and what Millennials can do to change the system.
  4. Claremont McKenna College held a voter registration week in October with over 100 registration and ballot requests completed in addition to hosting several round tables with professors on Millennial involvement in politics.
  5. Cornell University put on an event,“Our Democracy, Our Voice: A Conversation About Campaign Finance,” in which US Public Interest Research Group representative, Lubabah Chowdhury, held an interactive discussion with CSA and the Cornell community about the dangers and complexities of campaign finance. 
  6. UC Davis members have worked this fall educating voters about the key issues, races, and ballot initiatives in California. They also worked with various campus political groups to host former President Bill Clinton. 
  7. Lafayette College has registered over 100 voters this semester and maintained a consistent presence on campus educating voters about the election and the major policy issues affecting young voters in Pennsylvania. 
  8. Louisiana State University appeared in the campus newspaper, the LSU Revielle, four times and on Tiger TV to discuss the importance of voting and civic engagement. The chapter also helped organize campus turnout for the final Louisiana Senatorial Debate.
  9. The University of Michigan has focused on policy advocacy and education. Pursuing their immigration education campaign, they started the semester with an informational documentary night featuring various immigration-focused documentaries. Later they worked with campus partners to plan campaign strategies for passing a resolution on immigration and tuition equality through the State legislature which they are excited to pursue throughout the rest of the year.
  10. University of Oklahoma held events on various topics, including an "Insider's Take on the Common Core Standards," "The Economics of Post-Secondary Education," and“The Necessity of a Living Wage for the Millennial Generation."
  11. University of Tulsa hosted a panel discussion about the importance of Millennial engagement with local community leaders, including U.S. Senate candidate Matt Silverstein, Policy Director of Oklahoma Policy Center Gene Perry, the Executive Director of the Tulsa Young Professionals, and City Councilman Blake Ewing.
  12. Vanderbilt University hosted a variety of events on campus including a chat with Former Tennessee Governor Phil Bredesen and a social event extravaganza to register voters.
  13. University of Virginia members drove dozens of voters to the polls to get-out-the-vote and are in the process of organizing a round table discussion with professors and policymakers to discuss how the midterms affect Millennials.
  14. Hofstra University worked alongside Hofstra’s College Democrats, College Republicans, Students for Liberty, Roosevelt Institute, and the Student Government to facilitate policy discussions on issues ranging from Social Security to immigration.
  15. Washington and Lee University has partnered with a wide coalition of College Libertarians, College Democrats, and Delta Sigma Theta Sorority to register, educate, and remind voters this fall.

Today, one week after the election, our members are back to work: formulating policy and organizing for the future of our country.  As we stand for Millennial mobility, generational equity, and political reform, CSA chapters ​will promote state and federal policies that foster growth and entrepreneurship, secure a 21st century education for all, reduce the national debt burden, advance real immigration reform, and advance civic engagement and national service. 

To Washington’s newest policy makers: follow the leadership of your youngest constituents.  Bring together different voices, find compromise, and take the common sense actions that will improve our country.