👀 2023 Sneak-Peek 👀
Happy new year and welcome back to The Up and Up.
As the new year and new session of Congress kicks off (still waiting on that though, the GOP needs to nominate a speaker of the House first), I texted some leading youth-led and youth-focused groups to see how they’re thinking about 2023.
To get a sense of what to expect from these groups this year, I asked each the same three questions:
What are your goals for 2023?
Biggest hope for 2023?
Biggest fear for 2023?
Here’s some of what they had to say:
Karly Matthews, Communications Director for American Conservation Coalition (ACC), a conservative environmental group
ACC’s goal remains the same: building the conservative environmental movement. Over the past few years, we’ve shown that conservatism and environmentalism can and should go together. This year, we hope to see even more action, like the advancement of nuclear energy and streamlining regulations to unleash clean energy deployment, pushed through in Congress thanks to the efforts of our activists.
While ACC was founded as a right-of-center organization, we’ve always worked across political and ideological divides to get the job done. Our hope is that this year, we continue to see bipartisan collaboration on environmental issues like climate change and conservation, specifically a commonsense, bipartisan permitting reform deal in Congress.
At ACC, our biggest concern is that both conservatives and progressives will retreat to their respective ideological camps rather than collaborating on the biggest environmental challenges that our nation faces. Increasingly, climate is a bipartisan issue among the American people, so it should be among our leaders as well.
Max Lubin, CEO of Rise, a college affordability and democracy-focused nonprofit
We’re organizing to continue working towards the record turnout rates we saw in 2022 battlegrounds by energizing young voters for Wisconsin’s high stakes Supreme Court race. We have 3 full-time staff on the ground and 30+ youth organizing fellows leading that work. We’re also preparing for the student debt Supreme Court fights this spring, and scaling up for 2024.
After 2020, many institutions, individuals and foundations pulled back their investment in the youth space that made 2022 much harder. My hope is that in 2023, those folks realize that our democracy hinges on investing in young people and step up accordingly.
After great results in 2018, 2020 and 2022, the democracy sector will become complacent and ignore the young people who were crucial to their success in all of those years.
Santiago Mayer, Executive Director of Voters of Tomorrow, the Gen Z-led voter engagement and education organization
To stand strong against the far right’s anti-youth agenda and to prove that messing with Gen Z will never work out for them, not in 2022, not in 2023, not ever.
That elected officials will finally realize Gen Z’s political power. We were key in 2022 and will continue to be a must-win demographic moving forward; decision makers must realize we cannot be ignored.
That, should [Rep.] Kevin McCarthy become Speaker, he will embrace the far right’s anti-youth policies. That he will fight to pass a federal Don’t Say Gay law and support book bans across the country. We must be ready to fight back and stop him and his caucus.
Rosie Couture, Co-founder and Executive Director of Generation Ratify, a movement of young people organizing for the ratification of the Equal Rights Amendment and gender justice
To make the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) a household name. Young people and our legislators know the Green New Deal. We know the Assault Weapons Ban. We understand these two policies and rally behind them. The ERA needs that same energy. We need to recognize the ERA as the permanent, all-encompassing solution it is to defend abortion access, protect queer youth, and advance survivor justice.
For the Equal Rights Amendment (ERA) to be published in the US Constitution. Nothing short of the Constitution prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sex will meet the crisis we are in. Whether it is the criminalization of abortion, banning of gender-affirming healthcare, or weakening Title IX protections, the need for the ERA is clear.
That the urgency to act on abortion will continue to dwindle. In the summer of 2022, advocacy and organizing around abortion was at an all-time high. Throughout the year, that energy started to go away. Organizers and movements who don’t focus exclusively on gender justice shifted their focus to other issues. Now that we have an anti-abortion majority in the House, I fear people will only continue to shift their focus, especially folks who don’t live in states where abortion access is under attack.
Kate Cartagena, Director of Youth Campaigns at Planned Parenthood Action Fund
Be creative when fighting for increased access to abortion for young people and students. Demand flexible attendance policies so students can get the care they need. Fight for emergency contraception, condom, and menstrual product access at all hours in places like vending machines in dorms and student centers. Make medication abortion available to all students and staff on college campuses, starting in my home state of New York. Finish decorating my house with amazing thrift store finds. Get married.
I’m hoping that abortion activists stay healthy, find peace and joy, and continue to build community with one another so we can continue our work in 2023 and beyond.
I fear that we won’t fully realize our power. Young people, especially young people of color, have been at the forefront of so many movements, like climate justice, gun violence prevention, and abortion access. Nearly 90 percent of young Black voters and almost 70 percent of young Latinx voters showed up for candidates who stood for abortion rights in the 2022 election. We know what our generation can accomplish — we just have to keep leading, winning, and building power.
Kristi Johnston, Press Secretary for NextGen America, the youth voter engagement organization and PAC
In 2023, we are diving into our work with renewed hope and energy – believing in the power of each other and the power of our collective voice. We will urge our leaders to pass federal legislation priorities on student debt cancellation, climate change, economic justice, abortion rights, criminal justice, workers’ rights, LGBTQ+ rights, gun violence, immigration reform, and defending our democracy.
My biggest hope has always rested in the power and imagination of young people… Young people are more engaged than ever before, and I am hopeful and confident that we will continue building on their excitement to create change on the issues that matter most to them.
As a generation raised amidst a climate crisis, an unjust economy, and unrelenting attacks on our most basic rights, we know that these crises cannot be ignored. Young people have shown that they clearly understand the stakes of the current moment – but they need the resources, tools, and education to turn their fuel into activism. At NextGen America, we’re using the next year to firmly put the youth agenda into action by continuing to build our historic movement for 2023 and beyond.
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A noteworthy tidbit
Exactly two years ago, after the insurrection at the US Capitol on January 6, 2021, Christopher Trzaska, a former Republican who organized the group College Republicans for Biden in 2020, switched his party affiliation from Republican to Independent. In the 2022 midterms, the New Jersey native voted for Democratic Rep. Mikie Sherrill. As the House speaker elections kicked off to a rocky start Tuesday, Trzaska texted me: “My vote for Mikie Sherrill looking pretty smart today. The clowns are running the circus.”
Today, he says he’s fed up with the chaos that has led to the days-long House speaker election, the longest in over 160 years.
“I don’t know how anyone can look at this mess and conclude Republicans have any clue how to run the country,” Traska said in a text. “This whole thing is a national security risk too.”
Asked if he still considers himself a conservative, Trzaska said:
“Ideologically yes. But today’s Republican Party isn’t conserving anything.”
YouthInGov, a coalition of more than 100 youth-led and serving civic focused organizations looking to increase youth representation in the federal government, worked with the Congressional Future Forum Caucus, 47 young members of Congress, to secure language supporting a youth inclusion assessment and office of young Americans in this year’s omnibus package, which passed at the end of 2022.
“We are thrilled to see Congress step up to ensure young people have more opportunities to participate in our democracy. By creating an Office of Young Americans in the Executive Office of the President, our youth will be able to bring their needs to the forefront and advocate for necessary resources. We’re also looking forward to seeing the results of the inclusion assessment as it will help us increase Young Americans’ inclusion and engagement in our federal agencies. As always, our goal is to ensure that Young Americans from all backgrounds have the opportunity to serve their communities through government service and are fully represented in all rooms where decisions are made,” Future Forum Co-Chairs Reps. Colin Allred, Haley Stevens, and Darren Soto said in a press release Friday.
Youth vote in the news 🗞
Florida Congressman Maxwell Frost on the Power of Gen Z, Family, and Organizing, Rita Omokha for Teen Vogue
GOP sounds alarm over struggles with Gen Z voters, Caroline Vakil for The Hill
Oregon teen’s activism could lead to lower voting age, Julia Shumway for Oregon Capital Chronicle