Leaning Forward: Getting Millennials into Office


‘So, what’s next?’

As a generation defined by continually looking for the newest and best, Millennials should be in a prime position to constantly analyze, brainstorm and implement new ideas. As stated last week, Prop 435 is looking ‘for those who will challenge this bureaucracy that we can’t progress with, shed the letter [(R) Republican or (D) Democrat] and engage in constructive dialogue. We want 435 independent candidates to run in the next election, 1 in each district of Congress.’ By defying the generations-old standard of partisan politics we may actually ignite the much-needed change our country requires. The alternative is to be left with the empty rhetoric from the current administration that would rather keep the status quo because it’s comfortable.

As promised, this blog will start to outline the tenants that Prop 435 stands for and what it means not just during the election season but also throughout the Officials’ elected time. You will notice that none of the tenants appear like ‘normal’ platforms from political parties and they aren’t supposed to. It’s about the ideals and how to work through these issues, individualized to the citizens of each district, not canned and watered down stump positions that espouse a highlight reel of headlines but provide no actual substance.

The first tenant is a Crowd-Sourced political agenda. Currently, candidates’ political agendas come from their party, not the people they represent. Voters are essentially voting for a pre-determined set of ideals that predict–without any discussion, compromise, debate or facts–where their candidate will land on all of the major initiatives. The glaring problem with this model is that it tells the voters what the Representative is going to do rather than the Representative asking the voters how they would like to be represented.

I don’t know about you but I hate going to restaurants with a fixed menu. I may love the appetizer but not the main dish and then I‘d rather choose a different dessert, but it was already determined for me WITHOUT asking me. I prefer going somewhere with lots of options and choices. When you’re making dinner plans, there are hundreds of options. You look at reviews, online menus, photos, ask friends for opinions and suggestions and weigh your own personal experience. You don’t go to a restaurant and have the waiter tell you what you are going to eat. It’s not based on where you go, who’s serving you or what you are wearing; You get to decide each time you go.

If something as menial as what you are eating deserves your attention and independent decision, how much more does your political participation and representation deserve to be studied and calculated? Each issue we are faced with is nuanced and detailed and should be scrutinized and analyzed and vetted to the Nth degree. The job of the Representative is to then present that information to their constituency and then ASK FOR FEEDBACK.

Prop 435 wants candidates to commit to asking those they represent how they can serve them. The ridiculous part is that this seems like a radical and scandalously shocking idea, but by asking the voters how they want to be represented you are not only engaging more and more citizens which elevates the dialogue of ideas, but you are also doing the job the position originally intended.

In the digital age when information and communication can come at such rapid rates, crowd-sourcing is an obvious next step in the evolution of our democracy. Most current Representatives, usually as a consequence of simple general dismissal, only participate in the electronic media arena to highlight their own thoughts and actions. Rather than just checking the box and moving on, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Snapchat and everything in between should be harnessed as a powerful feedback tool and utilized to begin the interactive dialogue between the Representative and those they represent.

As you can see, this first tenant has nothing to be with being ‘pro’ or ‘anti’ anything. It doesn’t offer empty words and superficial fixes to the complex issues we face today. But what it does offer is the hope that increased engagement and community focus is the best place to start these important conversations.

The second and third tenants: What do you think they are? Use the comments section to let us know and then join us next week.

(If you didn’t get a chance to read the first of the three blogs, you can find it here.)

Special thanks to the additional contributors to this post: Benjamin Hernandez and Stephen Sweny.

Kellen Sweny is part of the GovLoop Featured Blogger program, where we feature blog posts by government voices from all across the country (and world!). To see more Featured Blogger posts, click here.

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