18-year-old Saira Blair beat her opponent in the West Virginia House race by winning 63% of the vote and is now the youngest lawmaker in America. Saira is also a Republican and is fiscally conservative, pro-gun, and pro-life.
The majority of comments I have seen about this epic accomplishment by Saira have been positive. However, I’ve noticed far more negative comments coming from liberals than I am able to ignore. I’ve seen comments saying that Saira’s father, a state senator and her campaign manager, was the one really behind all this, not Saira herself. I’ve seen comments calling Saira brainwashed, indoctrinated, an idiot, and calling her supporters names as well.
This sounds all too familiar because I have had these same comments made about me, mainly from conservatives. And people wonder why only 12% of millennials turned out to vote. Really?
Millennials have an increasing distrust of government itself and don’t trust the ability of politicians to solve our nation’s problems. We are sick of the party games and sick of the political ads. We want solutions and we want representatives who can compromise on those solutions. We want candidates who state clear positions on the issues we care about. Regardless of the myth that young people overwhelmingly vote for Democrats, most millennials consider themselves Independents. More of them planned to cast a vote for Republicans in the mid term elections, according to a study done by the Harvard institute of Politics.
The Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement has done extensive research on the kind of education programs and policies that lead to increased youth participation.
The data is available, it was available before the midterms, and the way forward is clear to anyone who takes the time to read the information and put it into practice. If you want more young people to vote, start today by contacting your local, state, and national representatives and urging them to support policies, such as pre-registration for 16 and 17-year-olds, that make it more likely they will become lifelong voters. Stand up for the rights and opportunities of young people to participate in our democracy, even those who may not vote the same way you would. If you’re a candidate who wants young people to vote for you, speak to us clearly on the issues that are important to us and when you do get elected, continue to communicate with us.
When you treat young people as heroes when they agree with you and incompetent when they don’t, that sends a message that we are nothing more than your props. When you invite us to the table but then expect us to sit in a booster seat and expect to order our food for us, we’re probably not going to want to accept a second dinner invitation. When we show up at your party to find a bunch of people fighting and incapable of respecting one another, we are going to leave.
Saira Blair, you go girl! I might disagree with you on some of the issues, but I admire your hard work, dedication, and willingness to serve and I congratulate you on your victory.