Uniting for effective governance: How Gen Z and millennials came together for a National Week of Action
Layla Zaidane is the president and CEO of the Millennial Action Project.
The most effective lawmakers are the ones who know how to work well with others. This might seem simple, but in a time of intense disagreement and polarization, it can be a forgotten truth. Over the last two decades, our politics has been defined by partisanship and gridlock. It has boosted the careers of some politicians in the short term, yet that style doesn’t deliver results for real people over the long term. But good news: a few weeks ago, young lawmakers across America joined together to publicly buck the trend of performative partisanship and demonstrate that a better way to make policy is possible.
Through Millennial Action Project (MAP)’s network of local chapters, called Future Caucuses, Gen Z and millennial lawmakers are already building bridges and working on policy solutions together. Elected officials ranging from progressive to conservative are a part of these effective groups, and today we count 34 Future Caucuses and 1,600 young lawmakers as a part of this movement.
Every year, MAP hosts a National Week of Action to catalyze action among members of the Future Caucus. It’s a week dedicated to mobilizing young lawmakers from all corners of the country — in Congress and in state legislatures — to showcase examples of good governance, and build a new narrative around what effective collaboration looks like.
This past March, young lawmakers nationwide led the most successful Week of Action yet. Throughout the week, MAP launched a new Future Caucus in the state of Delaware; named new Future Caucus leadership in PA, NC, MA, AL, and CT; spotlighted young members of Congress pioneering this work; and showcased via list upon list the critical bipartisan legislation that these incredible young leaders are achieving.
Moments like the Week of Action not only demonstrate the power of a rising generation of legislators to transcend political polarization — it offers a much needed reminder to the young elected officials leading this work that they are not in this alone. It’s a critical part of ensuring a healthy democracy — but don’t just take my word for it, hear for yourself from the young lawmakers themselves!
“Never before are the decisions that we make today going to impact the younger generations more than in our history,” said Congressman Blake Moore (R-UT). “That’s why we have to be at the table, because it's our future on the line. We have to find these bipartisan solutions so they are lasting.”
“It’s incredibly important for us to have young people at the table,”said Congresswoman Sara Jacobs (D-CA). “You don’t have to be older to make a difference. You don’t have to wait. We need you, we need your voice. We have incredible challenges in our country right now, and we are going to need everyone working together to be able to do that.”
“We’ve grown up with technology, we watched 9/11, many of us got out of college (me!) and high school during a recession, we nearly all have student loan debt… the system has been broken for most of our lives,” said Del. Kayla Young (D-WV). “We are willing to fight for our states and a country that wants to fix it.”
“Youth does not equal inexperience. If you have a vision and a voice, run. Be respectful of other perspectives, but don’t be afraid to provide your own,” said Rep. Thomas Kutz (R-PA). “Long-term sustainable change requires bipartisan support. It does no good for anyone to shut out the other side entirely and have it undone when majorities and executives change parties. This is especially true in Pennsylvania where we have a one-seat margin in the House!”
Rep. Leonela Felix (D-RI) shared that she seeks to transcends polarization “By listening empathetically, building friendships and coalitions beyond political ideologies and helping my community stay informed about the issues they care about through various mediums like social media, emails, newsletters…”.
“Young candidates (and young elected officials) offer a fresh perspective on the issues facing our society today, and they’re often much more willing to work across the aisle to accomplish a mutual agenda,” said New York Young Republicans during the National Week of Action.
“Childcare is a big one where I see bipartisan support for reforms: parents are desperate for quality care that doesn't cost their entire paycheck, entrepreneurs need their employees to have reliable care, and anti-bureaucrat types want to eliminate burdensome regs and paperwork,” said Rep. Jackie Chretien (D-NH).
“I think the perspective is different. Gen Z and Millennials want to solve problems and move forward to new challenges. I find older generations are more dogmatic and looking to win a fight,” said Rep. Tanner Magee (R-LA) on the value of young people in public service.
“I believe in bipartisanship. I wanted to be a leader who makes a point to work across the aisle but also knows when to stand for KS HD 10 values,” said Rep. Christina Haswood (D-KS). “The MAP helps us create space and uplifts the voices & issues of our generations.”
“When you reach across the aisle, you are able to get feedback on ideas from people who might approach a problem in a different way. When you discuss and debate the specifics, you'll end up with a stronger piece of legislation,” said Asm. Jared Gandolfo (R-NY).
Young people possess the key to break through partisan gridlock. In a time where campaign season is right around the corner and working across party lines typically slows down, we have seen just the opposite. The National Week of Action was a powerful reminder that young people are capable of so much, and when we can help them build a path forward together, anything is possible.