Everyone’s got something to say about millennials. We’re the puzzle every marketer wants to crack, the conundrum every candidate wants to solve. Depending on what you’re reading, we’re job hoppers or jobless, optimistic or complex, socially aware or selfish.
This September, one thing is for sure: Millennials are stepping up to protect our future—and we’re paying attention to the political leaders who are (or aren’t) doing the same.
As world leaders descend on New York City for the historic United Nations Climate Summit happening on September 23, young people from all across the country will be there to greet them. We’ll be marching in the streets with tens of thousands of people at the People’s Climate March, demanding that the United States lead the world on taking bold and decisive action on climate change.
It would be wise for our elected leaders to listen. By 2015, the youth vote will surge past the Baby Boomers, and young voters will make up one third of the electorate. Recent history has already shown that we are a formidable force in U.S. politics. Our power was first proven in 2008, when young people turned out to volunteer and to vote in record numbers—and by overwhelming margins (66%)—for President Barack Obama, whose 2012 reelection was also due, in large part, to high levels of youth turnout (which broke for the president by a 67% margin).
Throughout our nation’s history, young people have made up the vanguard of social change, often risking everything to force an idea whose time had come. The climate crisis is no different. The People’s Climate March is our chance to take to the streets of New York City and demand that President Obama and all the world leaders convened for the U.N. Summit act with the urgency and boldness that this issue requires: a complete ban on all fossil fuel extraction and rapid development of clean energy programs. After the People’s Climate March, we’ll be flooding Wall Street, sitting in and demanding an end to the abusive economic systems that allow corporate polluters to act unabated as they cause climate change.
With midterm years so often overlooked—and with many writing off young voters all together—the People’s Climate March represents a major turning point. More than 300 college campuses across the country will be represented by student delegations at the march. Thousands of young people are mobilizing, and the People’s Climate March is just the beginning – we’ll take our power and our demands to our campuses, to the big corporate polluters themselves and to the ballot box.
But our power to force action on climate change goes far beyond the voting booth. We are a generation that understands that our financial institutions have failed us, only serving the wealthiest among us. We know that our elected leaders are bought and sold to the highest bidder. We are a generation that opens up Twitter when there is major news, because we know that mainstream media rarely works fast enough or gives us the range of perspectives we’re looking for.