Now that Thanksgiving has come and gone, it is the one time of the year when we reflect on what we are thankful for — even in the world of politics.
It may seem like there is nothing to be thankful for given the state of the American political system, both local and national.
There is, however, one significant political trend which all Boston University students should be grateful for, which is the growing presence and influence young Americans have in their government. Since President Donald Trump’s election, more young people have been getting involved in their communities.
One of the defining aspects of young people taking a larger role in their government is the substantial increase in the percentage of those aged 18 to 29 who are voting in elections. The 2018 midterm elections provide some of the best insight of just how powerful the vote can be.
There is usually a significant drop in the amount of people who vote in midterms compared to the amount of people who vote in presidential elections, since many do not see the midterms as significant.
In 2018, however, the percentage of Americans who voted in a midterm election was at a 40-year high. Even more impressive, the percentage of those aged 18 to 29 who voted increased by over 15 percent from the previous midterms.
The fact there was such a surge in the percentage of young people voting shows that more of us have an interest in who our leaders are and what policies govern us. There is nothing more exciting than people becoming more engaged with their government and their country.
Another major aspect of this trend is that more young people are running for political office since the election of Trump. We need look no further than BU alumni themselves in order to see how these young individuals have made such an impact.
U.S. Representative and BU alumna Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez has helped redefine the notion of the traditional politician. Ocasio-Cortez did not come from a wealthy family with many connections. After graduating from BU, she did not go to attend a prestigious law school. In fact, she was a bartender before running for office.
Today, she is one of the most influential leaders in Washington.
Ocasio-Cortez has one of the largest followings of any member of Congress and one of the strongest voices within politics today. Her message resonants and inspires people throughout the country.
She is an example for young people that no matter your background, you can bring change within your country and play a major role in your government.
Above all else, we should be thankful young people today, regardless of whether or not they have an interest in politics, are standing up for what they believe is right and speaking out against injustices they see in the world.
The March for Our Lives, a campaign centered on stopping gun violence in the country, was created by high school students. Greta Thunberg, a 16-year-old, has led climate protests throughout the world. She has even directly called out world leaders at the United Nations for their reluctance to make change, explaining instead how it will be up to our generation to deal with the climate crisis.
It is clear that despite all the challenges which the world currently faces, there is still plenty to be thankful for, even in an arena where it seems little inspiration remains. This country is your country — make sure you have a voice in it.