There is an adage that says that young people dont vote. This election proved it wrong very wrong. Barack Obama is the president-elect in large part because of our generation, our votes and our engagement in the political process. Young voters voted in Obamas favor at a margin of more than two to one. In any state in which the popular vote was close and Obama won, it was likely due to a strong youth turnout for Barack Obama.
It wasnt just our votes that made the difference. The hours tireless young people spent knocking on doors, making phone calls and showing enthusiasm for the political process energized the country to get behind Obama. While we should be jubilant that the youth made a true difference in this election, we should also be vigilant that our votes are respected just as much after the election as before it.
We need to ensure that our generations concerns and priorities are given national recognition and support by this new administration. Our generation helped get Barack elected, and now it is up to us to keep him honest and make sure that he accomplishes all the things that we elected him to do.
Part of this burden lies with us to continue to stay as involved and engaged in politics after the election as we were during it. We must continue to remind our government and this administration that we have proven that the youth of this country matter and can have a real impact on elections.
Regardless of which candidate you voted for this week, the next four years present new opportunities to get involved in a new era of American politics. Aside from the vaunted White House internships that many young Democrats on campus will no doubt pursue, there are plenty of possibilities for Georgetown students of every age and political stripe.
For the freshmen, consider interning on the Hill for a new member of Congress. With many new members of the House of Representatives and the Senate, an internship in one of these offices would be an exciting introduction to the legislative process. If you have a been there, done that attitude about Hill internships, think about interning at a policy think tank. As the Obama administration considers a carbon cap-and-trade system and a windfall profits tax for oil companies, think tanks are going to need interns to pioneer some of the background research on these issues. Throughout the campaign, Obama showed a strong commitment to policy debate. Georgetown students should draw from their experience on the Hilltop to weigh in on these debates. A good place to start looking is www.transitionjobs.org.
For the seniors who are job-hunting in this lousy market, an Obama administration represents a change in philosophy with regards to civil service. The Washington Posts Dana Milbank recently wrote about Obamas plans to make working for the federal government cool again. Not since FDRs New Deal have federal agencies planned such a broad initiative to open their doors to young talent.
A popular chant outside the White House on Tuesday night was, Yes, we did. However, as Obama himself reminded us, this is only the beginning. All eyes will be on Obama to live up to his words, but the responsibility of enacting change does not lie solely on his shoulders. To achieve change, all Americans must get involved Republicans, Democrats and independents. Lets not allow the enthusiasm of the past months wane now that the election is over. Politically, Americans need to continue to rally behind the causes they believe in and get involved whether that is through writing letters to your representatives or joining organizations like the ACLU, Sierra Club or NRA.
It is imperative that people continue to make their voices heard and are aware of what is happening on Capitol Hill. While some of us may be hppy just to have Obama at the helm, he alone cannot fix all our nations problems. Americans, particularly young people, can play a pivotal role is fixing the most formidable problems plaguing our nation through volunteer work. There are countless organizations looking for young people to work on issues such as combating climate change and improving our schools.
While all Americans should be proud of this moment in history, we must remember it is only the beginning. We cannot let the opportunity to harness the incredible energy behind this election pass. Weve shown we have hope; its time we make some change.