A guest post from Avery Fair, a 17-year-old activist from Dubuque.
This upcoming 2020 presidential election will be different from past elections, with a vast number of Democratic candidates running for the nomination this year. For me personally, it will be the first election cycle I am able to participate in.
I wanted to find a way to educate myself on all the candidates and the process surrounding the election. Living in Iowa, I constantly have the opportunity to hear candidates speak when they visit the state.
When I began listening to candidates, I learned that you won’t agree with someone on everything, but it’s important to find which issues you care most about and will impact you most. Once you identify these issues, you begin to narrow down which candidates are more of a match to your values.
I attended Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Fox News town hall at the University of Dubuque in June. From that day on, there was no doubt in my mind about who I would caucus for. I immediately went home from the event as if something woke up inside me. The best way I can describe it is that Senator Gillibrand lit a spark of passion and excitement in me.
We both care about the same issues, and her values deeply resonate with me. She was the first candidate I had ever heard talk about sexual assault as the immediate problem it is. Later, I learned that she has been leading the fight against sexual assault in the military and on college campuses for years. She was also the first candidate I’d heard call out the corruption in Washington.
I admire how she fearlessly calls out the NRA, embraces being “not very polite” when defending women’s reproductive freedom, and how she explains that the phrase “the future is female” is meant to be inclusionary, not exclusionary.
Senator Gillibrand constantly takes on the fights that other people won’t. She speaks with such passion and bravery, often fighting for those who are underrepresented and standing on principle instead of doing what some may say she is “supposed to do.” Her professionalism and calmness makes me feel assured that she is, and will continue to be, an extraordinary leader for our country.
As soon as I heard her speak at the town hall, I went home, donated money from my last paycheck, ordered her book from Amazon, and signed up to volunteer.
As a volunteer, I had the chance to meet so many welcoming people from the campaign and the Senator herself. I also had the great opportunity to introduce her at an event in my hometown of Dubuque in July. Introducing my biggest inspiration was unlike anything I could have imagined. I shared with the crowded room a little about myself and why I chose to support Senator Gillibrand.
I also, along with several other new caucus-goers, had the opportunity to have breakfast with the Senator in Dubuque. During this time, we were able to ask any questions we had, share our concerns, and talk about the issues that we are most passionate about.
As a seventeen year old, it was amazing to see how she values each one of us when some people may dismiss us due to our age. She listened intently to what we had to say and made our voices heard. I learned at that moment just how much our young voices matter. We had caught the ear of someone who fights for our, and our country’s, best interest every, single day. It blew my mind that she took time out of her busy schedule to meet with us, but that is just who Kirsten Gillibrand is.
The opportunities I have been able to experience within a short period of time proves just how much young voters’ voices matter. We are our country’s future, and if we want to see a change, the best way we can do it is to get involved.
I know so many people out there are outraged by what they see in the news or on Twitter, but if we took all of our anger and channeled it towards a cause, our generation can inspire a huge change. All it takes is participation. Becoming activists on the issues that we are most passionate about, getting involved in campaigns, donating and, most importantly, voting! Our vote is our civil responsibility to help effect real change in the world, and for those who are my age, it all starts with the 2020 election.
by Avery Fair