Young and Politically Engaged

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By Marissa Maier

With Occupy Wall Street shining new attention on the much sought after-and often underrepresented-young voter pool, we sat down with our district leader, Jenifer Rajkumar, to discuss why the youth vote matters.

What is the New York Democratic County Youth Committee?

It is a brand-new political committee created in the fall of 2011. Our members are young Democrats in their twenties and thirties who are passionate about making social change through politics. Our mission is to increase youth participation and representation in the political process by advocating for issues that directly affect local youth and coordinating youth-related activities for the Democratic Party.

Our committee is a platform for young people to voice our concerns about the future of our planet, about laws at a local level and about the type of political leaders we would like leading our generation. The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle actually believed that engaging in politics was a way of building your own character and practicing virtue. How different this moral view of political engagement is from the view many have of politics today! Through the youth committee, we are redefining what civic engagement and political leadership means.

It is interesting that a way that many people see youth being politically engaged right now is through the Occupy movement, but the committee seems to offer a different route for young voters.

Occupy Wall Street saw a lot of people come to the public square to make their voices heard. The New York Democratic County Youth Committee started at the same time as a way for young people to make their voices heard through the political system. OWS didn't want to align with any political party. Our committee offers another avenue for young people who want to make a change. The Youth Committee offers a way for us to make change through the political system at the local level of New York County. If you come to our committee meetings, you will see a shared, common belief that our new youth committee is a platform where we can be heard.

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