Many people often ask me why I’m politically engaged, why a 19-year-old may have forgone so much “just” to have a seat at the table. The other day, someone very close to me questioned my reasons for entering the “political game” instead of “enjoying the fun that youth brings.” Admittedly, there are times when I ask myself why I’ve taken on so much. But then I remember the latest rally in New York, the latest mass shooting, the latest hateful words out of Washington or the latest conversation I’ve had with someone who desperately needs our help. Although the political arena has become more divisive and polarized, I believe it’s our collective responsibility as Americans, as students and as global citizens, to see past these divisions and focus on what actually matters ahead, what will actually affect us in the years to come. More than ever, we must rely on the guidance of leaders who represent the core values of our nation.
I recently had the opportunity to sit down with one such leader, 22 year-old State Senator Will Haskell (D-CT 26th District), who represents the towns of Bethel, New Canaan, Redding, Ridgefield, Weston, Westport and Wilton in the Connecticut State Legislature. Haskell was especially concerned about their lack of attention to the needs of young people and the world they will inherit. From preventing violence in schools, to ensuring higher education is made affordable and accessible for the next generation of workers, Haskell’s campaign advocated for young people both as future leaders and as core contributors to Connecticut’s future. Ultimately, it comes down to whether our generation will choose to become active, to lead and to influence government policy and decision-making. Haskell has never been more confident that society is ready.
The upcoming 2020 election is a defining moment in the course of our nation’s history. If we rally together, we have the potential to send a message across this country that young people are no longer resigned to inheriting the future, no longer simply accepting the status-quo, no longer afraid to voice our opinions. Are we going to be MIA at this crucial juncture? I am convinced that one of the positives of the chaos and distress in our country is a growing interest of young people to take an active stance in our political future, not just as voters but as elected officials.
Senator Haskell will be visiting Fairfield University on October 10 at 6:00 p.m. and is excited to discuss with students how Connecticut can meet their needs in a 21st century economy. It’s this kind of discussion and passion for understanding the issues and working together to solve the issues that’s so desperately needed during this crucial period. The importance of the upcoming municipal elections and crucial 2020 elections cannot be overestimated. We have a collective responsibility as Fairfield University students and as young people to shape the future. The stakes have never been higher.
Perhaps most fitting is the driving question behind Senator Haskell’s campaign: If not me, who? If not now, when?