Millennials, the reality is adulting has its challenges! Regardless of our feelings of the ups and downs of adulthood, we still have to make decisions that will affect our future and those behind us. One major key decision that affects our future is voting. Our votes are just as important as our grandparents. With this upcoming election, it’s important that we not only make history at the polls, but we hold each candidate accountable on the laws that will shape the future landscape of America for Millennials and Americans alike.
Below are outlined issues that that should be on your radar in 2020:
Criminal Justice Reform (Pay close attention to who’s running for district attorney and sheriff in your local elections.)
For over 40 years the prison population continues to rise high in numbers with many of the incarcerated our black and brown boys. We have over 2,300 local prosecutor offices in this country. These prosecutors try, on average, 2.3 million felony cases a year. Our local DA’s and prosecutors represent 95% of criminal prosecutions in our nation.
Even though each state DA’s policies and practices are different, one common thing they have is it’s an elected position. Each campaign year we get to see how they politicize their conviction and death rates with aims to target safety within our community. With those numbers and a continual politicized justice system, it is important that millennials vote for our DA’s and sheriffs. Pay close attention to candidates who understand the importance of reforming criminal justice within our community, not those who peddle their own personal agenda.
Taxes (property, real estate, wages and student loan interest deductions)
How many of us noticed we got more money on our checks and less money on our taxes? If so, that is just one of the many changes the new tax laws have had on our bank accounts. These new laws have also affected our commuters, our avid millennials who relocate for their jobs, and those of us who live in higher-income neighborhoods.
Many of us commute to work and our employer pays for those expenses (train transit, bus transit, and parking). Now, some of us will have to foot the bill because it’s no longer considered a tax deduction within companies. The same applies for many of us who make major moves to cities because of our job. We can no longer count the mileage or unpaid travel for relocation expenses as a deduction. Note, these tax laws vary from state to state, so it is very important to know and understand these laws in your state.
In this upcoming election, we need to continue to make strives on who we vote for in Congress (House Representative and Senate) to ensure these new taxes don’t keep us broke and living at our parents’ house.
Student Loan Debt and Education
Each year we get to see every political candidate come up with a grand promise for better, more accessible education in lower income communities. Promises like lower or no student loan debt, and affordable education for first generation college students. These are to try to gain the millennial vote. In this upcoming election makes it no different. On the agenda for student loan debt and education, a few of the democratic nominees have proposed to reduce student debt for 95% of Americans with student loans, wipe out student debt entirely for 75% for current students who already have accumulated student loan debt., and universal free public college education. Follow the issues of student loan debt very closely in 2020, removing debt from our lives is always beneficial to our success.
Healthcare and Reproductive rights
As stated earlier, adulting has challenges, especially when you turn 26 and you’re no longer under your parents healthcare insurance. Then, the worst part is if you don’t get insurance during special enrollment period that’s more money taken from your income taxes during income tax season. Healthcare should be a top button issue on the minds of millennials across the country.
Has wages stagnant and healthcare bills rise, young people need to turn to candidates who have a plan for millennials who might be weary of doctors, or a young person who just needs the proper resources on changing their diets. Healthcare will look different in the future and our vote will dictate which direction we head in. There are 32 countries who have some for a universal healthcare. We are saying that is the right direction for America, but we are saying we need someone to lower these “damn bills!”
Reproductive rights seem to be the issue that never goes away. Especially for black women. Black women have a disadvantage for reproduction because of affordable healthcare insurance, illegal abortions, and negligence from their physicians during pre/post-natal care. Many people within our community, such as planned parenthood, female physicians, the film industry and others have been advocating for those rights to change. Find the candidates are true to the issues you believe. Local politicians as well as some of the bigger ones all have strong stances on reproductive rights. Find the person whose views align with yours.
Gentrification (Are these developers/investors adding value to our communities? If so, how can we cash out like them?)
Pay close attention to our cities and communities, they are changing. What once was home to our slums and ghettos is now prime space for real estate develops to move out legacies and families and traditions. According to a gentrification report on govenring.com (research based on census data), almost 20% of neighborhoods with lower incomes have experienced gentrification since 2000. Some say it’s helping the community, but others believe is a detriment. Either way, it should be an issue on your radar. What your community looks like in 15 years will be a direct reflection on your voting record the next five.
Energy and Climate Control (Global Warming)
Unless you have been living under a rock, you know and understand the dangers of climate change. This is an issue that has many voters frustrated. It seems most voters agree climate change should be taken seriously and our lives need to change in a significant way, but politicians still stand in the way of REAL climate change. Candidates will be making this a hot button issue in 2020, and you should too. Global temperatures are rising, wildfire seasons are lasting longer, and chunks of ice are breaking off of Antarctica. If we don’t vote to save this planet, who will?
Words by: Kinyana Mccoy