Things That Matter

Gen Z Is Rallying For A Younger Voting Age In California, Which Would Undoubtedly Shake Up The Upcoming Election

Gen Z are constantly finding ways to make millennials, like me, proud. Young activists in California have mobilized to pass assemblymember Evan Low’s bill, Assembly Constitutional Amendment 8 or ACA 8. The amendment lowers the voting age in California to 17 years old in statewide elections. On August 26, the legislation passed the state Assembly and is now headed to the Senate for a vote.

Should the national voting age be lowered? Age requirements have been an ongoing debate for decades now. The whole point is that in Democracy, we’re supposed to be equal. (Any marginalized person knows that isn’t true in practice, but in theory, we’re all meant to be equal.) In order to vote, there is no barometer for intelligence, and now there is no gender requirement, no race requirement (allegedly, we all know about gerrymandering), and no property requirement. The only real stipulation is age. 

This issue is complicated and obscured by what the collective culture believes is “old enough.” Who is really an adult and who isn’t? Let’s take a closer look.

Gen Z wants a say in their future. 

Fair enough. It’s not like adults have been doing a great job running the world. We’re living in a climate emergency that, regardless of whether we act or not, is going to have massive and disastrous effects on every person on earth. We have President Trump in the states rolling back environmental regulations and President Bolsonaro in Brazil allowing the Amazon to burn. It’s no wonder young people are fed up with not having a say.

In fact, its not the first time the voting age has been questioned. Up until the Vietnam War (1964 – 1973), it was 21. The war which drafted tens of thousands of young people to their deaths, who were unable to vote for or against the war, was one of the most gruesome wars fought in U.S. history. It was young people who mobilized in protest and passed the 26th Amendment in 1971 which lowered the national voting age to 18. 

Meet the people of color leading the charge. 

The 17-year-old activist Tyler Okeke and Luis Sanchez, Executive Director of Power California, penned an op-ed in Teen Vogue advocating for a lower voting age. With Sanchez’s help, Okeke spearheaded a resolution that directed the superintendent of the Los Angeles Unified School District to report on the feasibility and costs of allowing 16 and 17-year-olds to vote in school district elections. In April, the resolution was passed. 

In Berkely, California, 2016 voters approved Measure Y1 lowering the voting age to 16 in school board elections. A similar measure was narrowly defeated in San Francisco, but California is paving the way for this important national conversation. You can now even pre-register to vote online in California at 16 and 17. 

Young people of color are most prepared to vote.

Lower voting age is also a matter of immigration status. Many teenagers are citizens but have parents who are ineligible to vote. A measure like this would be a huge win for immigrant families who would now have family members able to advocate for their interests. 

“Today’s young people, and young people of color, in particular, are ready to use their voices and their votes to bring about positive change, according to recent research,” Okeke and Sanchez wrote. “At 16, young people can drive, pay taxes, and work for the first time without major restrictions. Many young people from working-class communities also shoulder major responsibilities, such as contributing to family incomes, taking care of their siblings, or translating important information for their parents.”

But are 16-year-olds “smart” enough to vote?

Okeke and Sanchez believe 16 is an age where teenagers are more stable and have a good enough civics and government foundation to participate. 

“Research suggests that when young people vote in their first few consecutive elections, the habit sets in — ultimately strengthening our democracy. And statistical evidence has found that the average 16-year-old has the same level of civic knowledge as someone who is 21,” Okeke and Sanchez wrote. 

I am sorry, but have you heard of Malala Yousafzai who wrote an op-ed at age 11 about living under the Taliban occupation and advocated for women’s education? Malala was such a threat to the status quo as a teenager that the Taliban attempted to assassinate her at 15. They failed. When she was 17 she won the Nobel Peace Prize. Have you heard of Emma González? When she was 18 years old, this Latinx survived the horrific Parkland shooting. She then co-founded the gun-control advocacy group Never Again MSD. 

Teenagers have to suffer the trauma of living in a world that adults exploit and oppress, but then they don’t get a say on how to solve any of the problems they’re subjected to? I don’t think so. There are countless examples that demonstrate how intelligent, compassionate, and organized teenagers can be. 

AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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AOC Wants Coronavirus ‘Reparations’ For Minority Communities

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For minority groups, there’s no denying that COVID-19 has had extreme effects.

According to reports COVID-19 deaths have appeared at disproportionate amounts in African-American and immigrant communities. In New York, where COVID-19 deaths have reached all highs, nearly a third of New York City’s infections are in Queens- a city with one of the most diverse populations in the world. More alarming is the fact that the hardest-hit neighborhoods are ones populated by undocumented and working-class people. In a recent interview with Democracy Now! Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez called out Trump’s response to the pandemic for its part in the many deaths occurring across the United States highlighting them “deaths of incompetence,” “deaths of science denial” and “deaths of inequality.”

In her recent interview, Ocasio-Cortez called for coronavirus reparations for minorities.

Speaking about the enormous racial and ethnic disparity in the Coronavirus cases appearing in hospitals across the country, particularly the deaths that are occurring, Ocasio-Cortez emphasized the need for government intervention. Particularly when it comes to Queens, New York. “This is one of the most working-class and, as you mentioned, blackest and brownest communities in New York City. It is extraordinarily dense. Even for New York City, it is a very dense and densely populated community,” Ocasio-Cortez explained. “It’s no surprise that, you know, in the wake of this pandemic, right after the Trump administration announced its public charge rule, which basically said, if you are undocumented and seek public services, public healthcare, SNAP, WIC, etc., then you will be essentially put on a fast track to either denial of citizenship or outright deportation — and so, now that we have this pandemic and it is hardest-hitting in communities that are heavily immigrant and also with strong historically black communities, as well, that people are either afraid to go to Elmhurst Hospital out of the cost or out of sheer fear that they will be put in the public charge list.”

Since the rise of the pandemic, Ocasio-Cortez has eagerly pointed out the higher numbers of COVID-19 fatalities in low-income communities and its roots in underlying inequality.

“COVID deaths are disproportionately spiking in Black + Brown communities,” Ocasio-Cortez expressed her outrage in a Tweet last Friday. “Why? Because the chronic toll of redlining, environmental racism, wealth gap, etc. ARE underlying health conditions,” the Bronx-born lawmaker added. Inequality is a comorbidity. COVID relief should be drafted with a lens of reparations.”

Bernie Sanders Drops Out Of 2020 Presidential Race Clearing Path For Joe Biden

Things That Matter

Bernie Sanders Drops Out Of 2020 Presidential Race Clearing Path For Joe Biden

berniesanders / Instagram

After a long and valiant fight for Democratic presidential nomination, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has dropped out. Sen. Sanders led an energized campaign among young voters offering a future of closing economic inequality, Medicare for all, and affordable college for anyone who wants it. His ideas have forever changed the Democratic party and are pushing the platform to be one of the most progressive platforms in history.

Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders has officially ended his campaign to be the Democratic presidential nominee.

“I wish I could give you better news, but I think you know the truth and that is that we are now some 300 delegates behind Vice President Biden and the path towards victory is nearly impossible,” Sen. Sanders told his supporters in a video. “So while we are winning the ideological battle, and while we are winning the support of so many young people and working people throughout the country, I have concluded that this battle for the Democratic presidential nomination will not be successful. So, today, I’m announcing the suspension of my campaign.”

Sen. Sanders is calling on his supporters to join the larger fight for Democratic causes.

Now that Sen. Sanders has left the presidential race, Biden is the presumptive nominee. The former vice president has been leading in delegates since Super Tuesday with African-American voters showing up in large numbers to support Biden.

Sen. Sanders supporters are saddened by the news that their favorite abuelo will no longer be in the race.

Sen. Sanders tapped into emotions that have long bubbled under the political landscape. People want change and they want the kind of change that is going to positively impact their life. This means making healthcare, education, and social support more accessible. For millions of voters, Sen. Sanders was the candidate to make that happen.

His supporters felt seen by Sen. Sanders.

Sen. Sanders undoubtedly ran a campaign that spoke to the people who felt forgotten by politicians. Young voters, especially young Latino voters, flocked to Sen. Sanders because of his message of fighting for everyone to give America the best of what the people deserve.

Democratic candidates who have already left the race shared messages of support and appreciation for Sen. Sanders.

Beto O’Rourke was one of the many Democratic candidates fighting to become the Democratic presidential nominee. Recently, O’Rourke joined a handful of Democratic politicians who threw their support behind Biden after Super Tuesday and it seemed he would be the nominee.

Despite the politics and the global pandemic, people are grateful for Sen. Sanders and his fight for the common people.

Thank you, indeed Sen. Sanders has stayed true to his beliefs for decades and has bee able to energize a voting bloc that is often left out due to a lack of participation. Now, young voters are able to understand the importance of their input in politics.

READ: Latino Voters Deliver Bernie Sanders Major Victory In California Primary