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Local youths organize U.S. Senate Debate in preparation for 2020 elections

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Emma Tang is an 18-year-old political youth activist who runs the Instagram page @intersectional.abc, which has nearly 40,000 followers. Her goal is to educate and motivate the public through print and social media. Tang says she plans to run for the office of President of the United States of America in 2040.

We are less than one year away from what will be the most historic election my generation has ever witnessed. With more than 10 Democratic presidential candidates stepping up to challenge a leader facing impeachment, voter turnout will need to be the highest it’s been in decades. According to 18by.vote, which used U.S. Census Bureau data, every two years, more than 7 million American citizens turn 18 and become eligible to vote.

Millennial voters made up nearly half of the citizens eligible to vote in 2019, yet people under the age of 29 had the smallest turnout among all age groups. Though the turnout for 18- to 29-year-olds in the 2018 midterm elections jumped from 20 to 36 percent (compared to the 2014 midterms), voters ages 65+ still turned out at nearly double that rate. But partly because of this jump in youth votes, the Democrats gained control of the U.S. House!

Your vote is your power. Women, Native Americans, African Americans and 18-year-olds especially, have long had to fight for the right to vote, and we shouldn’t take it for granted. As the daughter of two immigrants, I’ve had the privilege to watch both my parents vote in every election. A Taiwanese immigrant, my dad came to the States to study and work. He made the decision to become a naturalized citizen because, though he was taxed as an American, he did not have the right to choose who represented him.
At campaign events, I’m always the youngest person there and I’ve heard many times that “the youth will save us” and “the youth will fix our past mistakes.” Yet, we are devalued in political spaces. With the Democratic Party here in Colorado, many youth outreach directors and youth organizations are used as tokens to show that young people are involved in politics. We youths are the largest voting bloc this election, and we deserve to be heard.

This election cycle has so much at stake, and I want to make sure that the youth have the highest turnout to influence the tide of our democracy. I and a few other local youth activists — with resources from the Planned Parenthood Generation Action Group at CC and Colorado Spring Feminists, plus help from CC's Wellness Center — have organized the first ever youth-led U.S. Senate Candidate Debate in Colorado. We are hosting this event because we want to give the Colorado candidates running for Senate an opportunity to reach out to young people and to give the youth an opportunity to be more involved with local and state politics.



We want to raise awareness around the race and let the candidates share their vision and ideas for the future in regard to the issues facing us.

As of this writing, though both have been contacted, neither Sen. Cory Gardner nor former Gov. John Hickenlooper will be attending the debate, with Mr. Hickenlooper citing “scheduling conflicts.” We contacted his team three months in advance, and he had previously given the same excuse to those planning the Climate Change Forum in October. We, the organizers of this event, believe that his inability to converse with younger voters and discuss our issues shows that he is afraid of our generation. All other candidates will be attending.

All event details can be found at tinyurl.com/Youth-Senate-Debate. Several candidates and organizations are coming to the event, and there will be food! We hope to see you there!

Youth-led U.S. Senate Debate
Sat., Dec. 7, 3-5:30 p.m.
CC’s Richard F. Celeste Theatre, 825 N. Cascade Ave.
$5 suggested donation; proceeds benefit the Womxn’s March

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