Sign up for democracy | The hill

As we head into the final month before the midterm elections, one thing has become clear across the country: Young people are ticked off and determined to stop hardline Republicans from turning our country back in time.

The three crises facing us as a country – the climate crisis, economic turbulence and a declining democracy – are all coming to a head right now, leaving Millennials and Gen Z as the last generations who can act. to prevent irreversible damage. Now more than ever, we need the collective power of young people to save our future.

This year, on September 20 — National Voter Registration Day — NextGen America, the organization I lead, will welcome a new wave of young voters ready to stand up for our rights.

National Voter Registration Day was launched in 2012 as a non-partisan civic holiday to celebrate the right to vote as a pillar of our democracy, producing millions of new voters. Since 2013, NextGen America has registered more than 1.4 million young voters and trained millions more. In 2020 alone, NextGen mobilized one in nine young voters who turned out to vote and scored major victories for Democrats.

But the relief and pride young people felt about 2020 was harshly challenged by the trauma of Jan. 6 and the long labor to extract meaningful policy change from a deeply divided Congress. As critical climate change and college debt legislation languished, many young people had to dig deep to find reason to believe in the process, and some began to doubt their participation even mattered.

What is equally remarkable, however, is how many of our volunteers and members refused to be discouraged. Thousands upon thousands continued to reach out to their lawmakers to demand action on the issues that matter most and to engage their peers on the need to persevere.

The passage of the Cut Inflation Act and President Biden’s decision to cancel student debt are significant victories, and young voters know that their passionate organizing and advocacy were at the heart of this success.

But beyond those substantial political gains, young voters have been enlivened by threats to our basic freedoms from election deniers, a right-wing Supreme Court and a certain former president who seems to waver between criminal and mad.

next generation just published the results of a survey we led from July 27 to August. 7, 2022, among registered voters between the ages of 18 and 35 in seven states: Arizona, North Carolina, Nevada, Michigan, New Hampshire, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. He revealed how the Supreme Court’s decision in Dobbs v. Jackson Women’s Health Organization quashing Roe v. Wade was powerful in motivating young people:

● Two in three say the decision has made them worry more about what will happen in November.

● Nearly two out of three agree: “Abortion rights are on the ballot this year. And only two more pro-choice senators eager to reform the filibuster are needed to help pass legislation to protect those rights.

● The margins of opposition to Dobbs are huge among young women voters: 18% support versus 76% opposition. Even half of Republican voters 35 and under opposed the Dobbs decision. Republican women oppose it by a margin of 21 points (36-57%).

These are undoubtedly difficult times and it can be exhausting to keep voting when elected officials are unable to do the job. But we’ve made significant progress, and we haven’t come so far to give up now.

The young people I work with on a daily basis are determined to defend our rights and freedoms: bodily autonomy, to decide for ourselves when we have children; Decide with our doctors on the best and safest health care based on our situation, not someone else’s politics or religious beliefs; learn in schools, free from bigotry, bullying and gun violence; to love and marry the partners of our hearts; breathe clean air and drink clean water; caring about each other more than we care about corporate profits; and the freedom to vote through an easy and fair process at every stage of the process and where every vote counts.

We cannot afford to take a pass for convenience. Young people know that voting is not the only thing they can do, but rather the most basic thing they to have to do. We must continue to stand in every election cycle to elect leaders who will add to our freedoms rather than take them away. There are 70 million of us between the ages of 18 and 35 in this country, and the future is literally ours.

As the turbulent old song reminds us, “Freedom does not come like a bird in flight; It doesn’t fall like summer rain; Freedom, freedom is a hard-earned thing. You have to work for it, fight for it, day and night, and every generation has to earn it again.

And we will. This month of November. And beyond.

Cristina Tzintzún Ramirez is President and Executive Director of NextGen America.