Apathetic, tuned out, disengaged; these are just a few adjectives often associated with the younger generation of Americans. Even as these adjectives persist there is a large group of young Americans who have taken the initiative to organize, mobilize, and make their voices heard. This group of young progressive Americans found themselves gathered together in Washington D.C. for the Campus Progress National Conference.
Campus Progress, part of the Center for American Progress, is a national organization that works with and for young people to promote progressive solutions to key political and social challenges. Attendees at the national conference had the opportunity to hear from policy makers and activist, network, and discuss the issues facing them as young Americans.
Speakers at this year’s conference came from many different backgrounds. Anne Johnson, Director of Campus Progress, politicians like House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D) California, Senator Dick Durbin (D) Illinois, and Democratic National Committee Chair Debbie Wasserman-Schultz. Administration officials Jack Lew President Obama’s Chief of Staff and Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis also spoke. Young activist like José Antonio Vargas founder of Define American and Zach Wahls who’s passionate speech to Iowa House of Representatives defending what he believed to be his lesbian mothers right to marry, stressed the importance of activism. AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka spoke about the importance of labor in America and the values that young progressives and American workers share.
The youth vote was a key constituency for President Obama during the 2008 campaign. He will again need the youth vote energized. The polls continue to show the race for the White House is close, but young progressives activity during this election could be the determining factor.