The unlikely coalition that first sent 29-year-old Joe Biden to the Senate in 1972 included an army of new voters – many of them under the age of 21. With a polarizing White House in Nixon, historic racial protests after the murder of Martin Luther King Jr. and a seemingly endless war in Vietnam, Biden added his voice to America's unruly discussions of war, addiction, the environment, prison reform, ethics and equality. Even before winning his first election, he made it a priority to shake up the old guard and insist on involving the youth at every level of politics. It's a big reason why he won.
In the months leading up to the ratification of the 26th Amendment (giving 18-year-olds the right to vote), Biden – just 28 himself and the youngest member of Delaware & # 39; s Democratic Party Renewal Commission of 1971 – helped renew the Democratic Party of the state. He did this by demanding inclusion of young people. "We need to identify issues of concern to young people – poverty, racism, design, pollution – and develop legislative programs," he said. "We must integrate young people into the party organization at all levels."
That fateful ratification of the right to vote for 18-year-olds came on July 1, 1971 – two weeks after my 18 yearsth birthday. I was a teenage volunteer in charge of the logistics of youth education implementation and volunteering for the & # 39; 72 Biden Campaign and son of State Party Chairman Henry Topel, who helped him get on the national stage.
At the national level, Democrats expressed the hope that an increase in support from 18 to 21-year-olds would give the party a huge boost. But the military draft that had sent so many young Americans to Vietnam ended that year, and President Nixon nearly co-opted theth Amendment: The result was that Nixon won by a landslide in 1972, because young Americans voted the same way their parents did. One of the few exceptions was in Delaware, where Joe Biden upset an incumbent Republican party by 3,162 votes. It was clear to us that young people had made the difference.
I was there to see Joe Biden bring a new vitality with passion and heart to almost every high school and community college in the state, educating teens about the power of their voices and the influence within their reach. He sent thousands of young people home armed with literature and information, inspired to start discussions around the family table on issues ranging from prison reform and pollution to ending the Vietnam War.
Why did young people trust Joe Biden? It was a combination of attributes. It was not just his age, appearance or point of view on the issues, but rather an authentic, alert, thoughtful and empathetic presence. By listening and speaking candidly from his heart, he inspired a new generation, who moved them into action in numbers that would not only shift the local balance of power, but also change political campaign strategies forever.
Fast-forward to 2021. The concerns of millennials and Generation Zers are closely aligned on a variety of issues, ranging from climate change and gun violence to social justice, according to the Pew Research Center and recent polls. While some expressed concern that Biden & # 39; s campaign statements on key issues related to today's younger demographics were too moderate, his foresight to distance himself from Bernie Sanders' more progressive, youthful views was confirmed by the election results – both in the primaries as well as the general election.
Biden & # 39; s policies on immigration reform, global warming and student debt reduction proved appealing to young voters alienated by the Trump administration. As the year progressed, the closer young voters looked to Joe Biden & # 39; s record – from his support of same-sex marriage in 2012 to his support of the decriminalization of marijuana at the federal level – the more they found.
Now, with cabinet appointments aiming to reflect America's diversity, the chances are greater than ever that Biden & # 39; s recognisability for young people will translate into lasting support. A defining moment of the 2020 campaign was the image of an outspoken Joe Biden who focused on 13-year-old Brayden Harrington, who talked about how he overcame stuttering as a boy and the techniques he still uses to do it. .
Can Biden lead another youth movement? Absolutely. Behind his vision – weathered by a life full of experience, love and loss – is at least a great authenticity, one that transcends old age and generations, bridges the gap and really brings us together.
. (tagsToTranslate) Young Voters (t) Joe Biden