Young America 18 to 29 Now Speaks UP

From now through November 3rd, young adults from around the country document what’s at stake for them in the 2020 election.

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Waiting and Watching: A Q&A With 18-to-29 Now Correspondents

WRITTEN BY

18-to-29 Now Team

Multiple

11/05/20

"As a young person, I still feel as though there's still a bigger and older generation making the rules and setting the tone." Erianna Jiles, 22

Antonio Villaseñor-Baca, 24
El Paso, Texas
Xicanx bilingual journalist, photographer, poet and writer

Did you vote? How did you vote?
I did early voting. Drove to the community college site close to my house.

What's most on your mind during this election week?
I think Van Jones said it perfectly on Tuesday night; I was looking for a repudiation of the atrocities under and thanks to this administration from U.S. voters. That didn’t happen. And as Biden looks closer and closer to the win, it makes me sad that objective undeniable acts and rhetoric weren’t a dealbreaker for so many.

What are you seeing/hearing in your community?
Still a lot of nail biting. A few sighs of relief with every electoral vote Biden gets. But I’m seeing a lot of frustration. A local favorite for mayor didn’t make the run off and she was the first true representation of El Paso’s political values (as she was endorsed by Bernie Sanders who won in El Paso) and this is largely thanks to people voting straight Democrat on the ticket instead of going candidate by candidate. To answer briefly and directly, it’s a bag of mixed emotions.

Looking ahead, what do you imagine will be the top issues in the months to come?
I’m sure the “political process” will be discussed a lot. This election seemed crazy and there was so much worry about votes being counted, where do people go to see who won, can you believe if someone won, etc. But people will be looking over their shoulders and questioning each other. This administration was one of divisiveness, or one that was very polarizing. But election night was filled with guesses of the “Latino” vote and the “Black” vote. Rick Scott was on ABC mentioning the Castros and how that impacted Florida and the “Hispanic” vote. Arizona was a huge shock and it seems like Pima and Maricopa counties were critical to that upset and those are large Latinx communities, Maricopa being where this administration started its tenure by pardoning a man for committing essentially war crimes. So I think, or at least hope, that the conversation is about how to engage with voters sincerely going forward and not just voting blocks. People do feel disenfranchised, like this process excludes them.

Do you think young people feel represented in the political process?
No, I don’t. I don’t think many young voters were excited about a Biden/Harris ticket. It was just a neutral against an evil. But nobody close to our age group or with our ideals was taken seriously in this process. Definitely excited about Omar Ilhan and the prospect of playing “Among Us” with Alexandria Ocasio Cortez as her political career continues. Young people don’t feel taken into consideration; they’re just not going to wait anymore to be given a seat at the table when the house is on fire.

Sher Delva, 28
Boynton Beach, Florida
Member of the Democratic Socialists of America (DSA) and poet

Did you vote?
I did vote in this election, and I voted Democrat. Although Joe Biden was not my first choice in the primaries, I thought he was a better choice than Donald Trump.

What's most on your mind during this election week?
I am anxious to see what the results of the election will be, but more importantly, I am wondering how the country will take in the results of the election. There has been a significant amount of hints given by President Trump that indicate he will not handle the results of the election well if he is not the winner. I am fearing the reaction of the election. If Trump were to win, I’d fear for my rights as a woman. After Amy Coney Barrett was sworn in, I started to fear my rights to my body when it comes to access to an abortion or birth control. In addition, during this election week, I really wanted Amendment 2 here in Florida to pass to increase the minimum wage to $15/hour. I am happy that we have heard the news of the amendment being passed.

What are you seeing/hearing in your community?
In my community, there is a lot of uncertainty. People do not know what will happen after a winner is announced. It could be violent or the results could be disputed. People are anxious. Many of my friends are not sleeping, and feel the weight of what potentially is to come. I think people are really realizing how divided the country is. People are either on one side or another, and it is a very divisive spectrum. There is a severe lack of unity, and there is a lot of anger and panic.

Looking ahead, what do you imagine will be the top issues in the months to come?
In the month ahead, I think the pandemic will remain a top concern. The question remains whether restrictions on businesses will continue or if masks will continue to be mandated. Small businesses have suffered tremendously. I know several small businesses that have shut down due to financial loss related to strict guidelines related to the pandemic. At the same time, I know people who have died because of catching the virus. Both are serious concerns, so I think we will continue to grapple with the best way to move forward until numbers decline or a vaccine is approved.

Do you think young people feel represented in the political process?
For the most part, I think young people feel they could be represented more. However, I am so proud of my DSA team for marching, canvassing and phone banking on behalf of Amendment 2. I marched alongside several members of millennials and Gen Z DSA members, and the passing of Amendment 2 proved we were able to have an impact. It was a close vote, and I think our efforts helped raise awareness of the amendment and motivated people to vote for it. I felt emotional when I saw the amendment pass because my mind instantly flashed to those who have to work multiple jobs to make ends meet. I thought of them, and how they will finally be on their way to making a more livable wage. The Florida minimum wage has not kept up with inflation, and the cost of living is astronomical. Gradually raising the minimum wage to 15/hr was absolutely necessary to keep up with the cost of living. The passing of the amendment highlighted how elections are more than just voting Democrat or voting for presidents, there are many amendments and local issues that have a huge impact on our daily lives. I hope people realize the power of paying attention to these issues and voting in more elections.

Erianna Jiles, 22
St Paul, MN
Creative writing student at Metropolitan State University

Did you vote? How did you vote?
I voted sometime last week. I planned to go. I also had some older friends check in with me and ask weekly if I voted yet. I Googled my local polling station — a community center, and went right in. Took no more than 10 mins.

What's most on your mind during this election week?
I've mostly been coaching and telling myself not to be on social media. Of course, I get on to get updated or to find comical relief through memes but — I have a content mind about everything. I have moments of negative feelings surrounding who I hope doesn't win but … I think we all do.

What are you seeing/hearing in your community?
Everyone I know is pretty hush toned about it. Waiting and watching. I feel like as a Minnesotan, I am exhausted by everything still and the last thing I want to talk about are one's bets about who will win or not. If anything, we are all patiently waiting to hear the results.

Looking ahead, what do you imagine will be the top issues in the months to come? If Biden wins, I feel like the media will closely follow every move Biden and Harris makes to a "T". If Trump wins, the nation — at least the communities I'm a part of — will be very distraught and stunned. And Trump will just go down as being "Trump." Either way it goes, either party will have to make some serious decisions about the health of the country (tackling COVID-19) and this continuous race war we can't seem to get over. I see protests and tears coming out of this election if we, the people, don't choose the "right person."

Do you think young people feel represented in the political process?
Outside of posting our "I voted" sticker pictures — no. As a young person, I still feel as though there's still a bigger and older generation making the rules and setting the tone. I feel young people are represented in the voting process but the long term benefits, I'm not sure. I definitely think more young people voted and got in tune with the culture of it this election than last.

Laura Bratton, 23
Wilmington, North Carolina
Independent podcast producer

Did you vote? How did you vote?
I voted early in-person for Biden-Harris and state/local Democrats.

What's most on your mind during this election week?
I'm thinking about climate change and racial equity. We need to act fast if we're going to mitigate the harms of global warming, and I'm concerned what will happen to our coastal communities if we don't take action soon. Living in a community where the wounds of racism are still very much open and festering, I'm hoping Biden and Harris will be elected and that they'll stick to their word and address systemic racism through police reform and other policies. I'm also very excited about the prospect of having a woman as vice president. I didn't realize how much this excited me until I felt a pit in my stomach watching Trump overtake Biden in North Carolina on Tuesday night, though it's still too close to call. I feel less anxious knowing that, at the very least, Democrat Roy Cooper won the election for governor in North Carolina, since he's committed to acknowledging climate change, strengthening the responses of coastal communities, and addressing harms done to large numbers of low-income communities of color.

What are you seeing/hearing in your community?
I live in the largest county in North Carolina to go red in 2016, but this year, New Hanover County went blue by a small margin (he won by 50.08%). My friends and I felt like we were on an emotional roller coaster watching the numbers come in for North Carolina — excited at the prospect of our state going blue, but trying not to get too hopeful.

In my community, I've seen pickup truck parades for Trump hold up traffic, but I've also been a part of large protests against police brutality, made up of young liberals hoping for change. So my community is pretty split between young liberals and mostly older white folks who support Trump.

Looking ahead, what do you imagine will be the top issues in the months to come?
I think the top issue in the coming months will be democracy and civil society. Trump has been questioning the outcomes of the election, and I'm worried that, with the large numbers of parading Trump supporters in my county, there will be a deep divide between people who accept the election outcome and people who don't.

Do you think young people feel represented in the political process?
I think young people feel represented when politicians care about policies that represent the future of our world. When politicians avoid climate change, it feels like they don't care about the next generation of young people. It's like they're saying, "Well, we're okay for now." Though I'm registered as unaffiliated, I feel represented by Democrats because they care about changes that need to happen to make our future liveable — in regards to addressing top issues on the minds of young voters like me, such as systemic racism and global warming.

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