As someone who has aspired to run for public office I am often frustrated when older adults agree that I should run for office, but only once I’ve gained some life experience. I understand that many people see me as a young 20 something recent graduate with little experience, but I see something different. My generation has come into adulthood in the worst financial crisis of the last 50 years, our student loan debt is close to topping $1 billion and our unemployment rate hovers around 13%. I’ve lived this experience, I know what it’s like to worry about having enough money and I know how hard it is to get a job. I also know about sacrifice. I worked three jobs through college to make ends meet and I worked full time during the summer to help pay my way through college. My experience is not unique, there are young people around this country who make sacrifices and work multiple jobs to get an education and find gainful employment.
The millennial generation now out numbers the baby boomer generation and I think our population size should be reflected in our representation. Currently just 8.5% of the members House of Representatives are under the age of 40. I think this number is partly to blame for why we don’t see more young people voting – they don’t see themselves in their leaders. It’s hard for a 20 something millennial to relate to a representative in their 60s or 70s and it’s hard for them to feel like their views are being represented.
I believe we need more young people in public office because they bring new and innovative ideas to the table, they understand the needs of younger generations and because diversity in age, in gender, in race and in life experience will make our government stronger and better able to address the needs of all Americans.
-Jessica LaVigne, Star Fellow Spring 2013