Progressive Young Voters to Biden: Energize Us and Win or Ignore Us and Lose
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Author: Kenny Stancil
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Common Dreams

In response to U.S. President Joe Biden's Tuesday announcement that he is seeking reelection in 2024, four youth-led advocacy groups urged the incumbent to push for progressive priorities during the remainder of his first term and campaign on policies that motivate young voters to cast ballots for him.

In a letter addressed to Biden, March for Our Lives, Gen Z for Change, Sunrise Movement, and United We Dream Action wrote: "If we're going to excite one of the leading voting blocs for Democrats, we need you to deliver the bold ideas that our generation cannot live without—stop the climate crisis, fight for the rights and dignity of immigrants, impose real gun control—and run on a bold platform that will get our generation out to vote."

"As the organizers of millions of young people across the country, we know that in order to secure wins against fascism in the 2024 presidential election, Millennials and Gen Z will have to turn out to vote in full force," the groups argued, sounding the alarm about the dire consequences likely to ensue if the increasingly authoritarian Republican Party takes control of the White House.

"Young people are not just a necessary part of a winning Democratic coalition, but the keystone precondition for Democratic victory... When Democrats energize and mobilize our generations, they win elections. When they don't, they lose."

"Following the results of 201820202022, and most recently the Wisconsin Supreme Court election in 2023, it is clear that young people are not just a necessary part of a winning Democratic coalition, but the keystone precondition for Democratic victory," says the letter. "The equation is simple. When Democrats energize and mobilize our generations, they win elections. When they don't, they lose."

"Going into 2024, our youth coalition is deeply committed to defeating fascist, right-wing extremism and the eventual Republican presidential nominee," the letter continues. "Young people are clear that the runaway extremism of abortion bans, threats to trans students, criminalization of immigrants, and the all-out assault on our climate are existential threats to our generation and generations to come."

However, when the Biden administration makes "bad decisions"—such as approving the Willow oil drilling venture and other fossil fuel projects, entertaining the revival of migrant family detentions, or otherwise "settling for the status quo"—it becomes "harder for us to get young people to the polls," the groups lamented. "That's why we need you to listen and co-govern with us if we're going to be able to mobilize the young voters we need to win."

The organizations implored Biden "to lead with our generation's values and policies at the forefront of your campaign and your next year in office," contending that his 2020 platform was essential to defeating former President Donald Trump—who is seeking the Republican nomination for 2024 despite facing various legal issues—and that progressive policymaking, particularly last summer, inspired the young voters who ultimately minimized the Democratic Party's losses in the 2022 midterms.

In the spring of 2022, "young voters were largely disillusioned with politics and were not excited to vote," states the letter. "That changed once you passed a historic climate bill, passed overdue gun safety legislation, and sought to cancel student loan debt—resulting in the second-highest youth midterm turnout in the past 30 years. Now, more than ever, we cannot abandon this two-part strategy—run on bold ideas young people can rally behind and have significant legislative victories to back them up."

"Going into the 2024 presidential election, it is clear that our opponents are getting even more ruthless and extreme," the groups warned. "Across the country we've seen abortion bans, transgender bathroom bans, [and] book bans in schools imposed by Republican extremists. We've seen Republican electeds say they will do nothing to stop gun violence, expel those who disagree with them from office, and attempt to ban educational opportunities and threaten the livelihood of immigrants in our communities. They must be stopped."

"We urge you to not leave our generation behind as you build your new campaign," says the letter. "Do not take our generation for granted."

"We are a generation that grew up through crisis—from watching storms decimate our communities to practicing school shooter drills to living through a global pandemic," the letter adds. "Throughout all of these crises, young people have shown up to demand the transformational change the country needs. We are fighters for a better world. That will not change in 2024."

Kenny Stancil is a staff writer for Common Dreams.

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