Our Call to Action
With President Obama’s second term soon coming to an end, one cannot help but remember a key message of his original 2008 campaign – Change. His “change we can believe in” struck a chord with millions, particularly young people. In 2008, Barack Obama received the highest share of voters under 30 of any candidate since 1976, when exit polls first started reporting results by age. It is safe to say that Barack Obama mobilized our generation, and our belief in change was stronger than ever before.
Now, with one of the most unpopular and unproductive Congresses in history, many members of our generation have lost hope. But I truly believe that the message of Change was not so much the ability to turn Washington around overnight, but rather the ability of everyday people to make progress when they finally take action. It is the story of everyday citizens, such as Rosa Parks and Mother Jones, who said enough is enough and chose to change their circumstance rather than accept them.
With 2016 approaching, I believe it is important to reflect on what we can do before throwing our absolute support at any candidate. For when the dust clears, and the president has been elected, we will return to our everyday lives with everyday decisions to make. The key decision will be: will I rely on someone else to make Change, or will I do it myself? If we are to accomplish anything we must empower ourselves and make change, beginning at the most grassroots level.
Tip O’Neil’s famous words, “All politics is local,” come to mind when I think of Change. And there is nothing more local for us students than our campus. As Democrats, it is our duty to participate on campus. Participation can take many forms, whether it is aiding a cause or leading it. Participate in student government, to advocate on behalf of the most vulnerable and fight for local progressive issues such as college affordability and sustainability. Get involved in other clubs who share our values in social justice, protecting our environment, and defending unions. Speak out when Penn State’s administration, Board of Trustees, or the State College Borough make wrong decisions. And ultimately, act when it is time to act. Petition. Canvass. Call. Protest.
During your four years at Penn State, you’ll be presented with many opportunities to make an impact. Do it. This is our Call to Action.
Ryan is a senior majoring in International Relations and History. He has the distinct honor of serving as President of the Penn State College Democrats.