Reflecting on July 4th: Listen to Young People

Reflecting on July 4th: Listen to Young People

Celebrating the 4th of July this past week was a reminder that this country was founded on the ideas and beliefs of young people. If the Declaration of Independence was written and signed today in 2024, half of our Founding Fathers would have been considered Gen Z and Millennial in age, with ‘radical’ perspectives on life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness. In sharing their idea of freedom, they risked punishment for what the British considered a capital offense. Nevertheless, they persisted and succeeded in winning America’s independence from the most powerful military and economic power in the world, and helped establish the first large-scale republic in the modern world. We must listen to young people.

Celebrating ‘freedom’ last week may have felt heavy for many of us, especially as young people – From the recent Supreme Court verdict declaring presidential immunity, to the lackluster debate between our two bipartisan candidates, and the injustices we face daily, many of us are feeling a shared sentiment of anxiety that the issues we care deeply about are on the line. But this week should remind us of our ability to elect the change we want to see at all levels of government. As the Declaration of Independence states, ‘whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive… it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government.’ Like the generations who came before us, we are watching our rights disappear before our eyes, and we’re not just going to sit back and take it. 

We are a generation of fighters, and we know voting is only the first step in this battle. As we launch our ‘Unleashing the #YouthWave’ campaign, Rise’s top priority is to continue to amplify the voices of young people and what freedom looks like and means for each of us. While the votes of many young people are on the table, politicians must recognize that they work for us, and our vote isn’t free. Let’s celebrate the power young people have to move this country forward in the right direction.

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