20 Ways to Fight for the Future: Young Activists Handbook

Source: Heather McGhee and Caleb Gibson, Dēmos, May 22, 2008

What’s at stake in the fight for the future? For generations, the American Dream has meant not only success for yourself, but a better life for your children. But for the first time in American history, experts are predicting that this generation of young people will be worse off than their parents. The American Dream of progress may end–with us. We are the first generation to come of age in a New Economy that’s marked by lower wages for average workers, fewer benefits and less job security. Yet our public policies have yet to respond and have often made matters worse. That’s because the last 30 years have seen not just an economic shift but a political shift as well, away from government investments in the financial security of its citizens.

It’s time for our generation to send a wake-up call to our city councils, state houses, Capitol Hill and the White House. The promise of our democracy is a government responsive to the needs of its citizens; when 14 million young adults are uninsured, when child care costs more than college tuition and college tuition costs triple what it did for our parents, our leaders are clearly falling down on the job. Of course, it’s our job to demand change. It’s important for young people to vote, and we applaud the doubling and even tripling of youth turnout so far in 2008. But when we vote, we’re primarily voting for candidates. For our ideas to win, we’ve got to build a movement. Hopefully, this handbook will help you do just that.

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