When I was a senior in high school I got involved with the Campaign for a Presidential Youth Council, advocating for a youth council for the office of the president of the United States. The goal of this campaign was to get young people, from regions across the country, a seat at the table and advise the president on issues affecting young people.

As the Massachusetts State Director for the campaign, I worked with other young people to get every member of the Massachusetts Congressional delegation to sign onto the legislation that was in the U.S. House of Representatives. To help garner more support, I met with my State Representative Steve Kulik and State Senator Ben Downing (now retired from the Senate) on supporting a resolution endorsing the youth council in the Massachusetts State Legislature. Within a few weeks, the resolution was passed and signed by State Senate President Stan Rosenberg and a copy was sent to every member of Congress and the president of the United States.

After all, it took one meeting and a few emails for a 17 year old to help pass a resolution in the state house!

At the time, I wasn’t even able to vote. But, after that first initial meeting with my State Rep & Senator, it became clear to me just how important – and effective – one’s voice can be. After all, it took one meeting and a few emails for a 17 year old to help pass a resolution in the state house!

President Obama said it perfectly in his farewell address, “Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.”
This experience has forever shaped my view of politics and policy making in our country. President Obama said it perfectly in his farewell address, “Change only happens when ordinary people get involved, get engaged, and come together to demand it.” In the context of the current presidential administration, it is more important than ever that we get involved with the political process and work to encourage our peers to do the same.

Furthermore, It’s time we start putting an emphasis on civic engagement in our public schools and foster discourse with fellow young people on issues that are affecting them and the dreams they have for themselves and for our greater society. And we need to educate folks on how politics plays a big role in our lives, whether we like to think it does or not.

Even with the results from November 8th, I am encouraged and energized to continue the important work of community organizing. I have taken on the role of Vice Chair of the Western Mass Young Democrats and Chairman of the Worthington Democratic Town Committee and am actively working to get more young people involved with the political process.

Just Like former Speaker of the House and Massachusetts Congressman Tip O’Neill once said, “all politics is local.” That’s where we need to start.

Casey Pease
caseytpease@gmail.com

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