Campaign Corner: A Time Of Reckoning For Our Generation - Honolulu Civil Beat

About the Author

Danicole Ramos

Danicole Ramos is the vice-president of the Young Democrats of Hawai‘i.

Hawaii is on the verge of electing over 15 candidates who are under the age of 35 to the Hawaii State Legislature and County Councils, following a trend across the country of thousands of young people who are stepping up to run for local and federal offices.

This trend comes at a time of reckoning for our generation. Across the country, we are facing a pandemic, an economic recession, a student loan crisis and a climate crisis. We are confronting the grotesque history and continuing trauma of racism in our country.

In Hawaii, many of our childhood friends are making the tough and tragic decision to leave the islands because of a lack of economic opportunities and affordable housing.

This isn’t the first time young people have stepped up at a time of reckoning. At the height of the Civil Rights Movement, a 21-year-old John Lewis and 12 other students known as the Freedom Riders stirred up “good trouble,” riding buses from Washington, D.C., to New Orleans to challenge the laws in the South that imposed segregated seating on buses.

As the Vietnam War escalated in the late 1960s, college students organized anti-war demonstrations on campus. The LGBTQ liberation movement began with 24-year-old Marsha P. Johnson, a black trans woman who led the first Gay Pride March in New York City.

In Hawaii, Patsy T. Mink, the first Asian American and woman of color elected to Congress, started her political career by founding the Oahu Young Democrats. The Hawaii State Constitutional Convention of 1978 jumpstarted several young activists’ political careers. They later became state legislators, council members, mayors and governors.

Congressional Rep. Patsy Mink was a trailblazer from Maui who had one of the most successful political careers of the twentieth century. Courtesy of Gwendolyn Mink

Their activism brought about significant amendments that transformed Hawaii’s political structure, such as the unionization of State employees, the establishment of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the preservation of the Hawaiian language.

Throughout each of these moments of reckoning, it was young leaders who dared to step up and to create the future they wanted to see for themselves. Today, we are witnessing a departure from politics as usual, with young leaders responding to the demands of even younger activists acutely attuned to their era’s injustices and inequities.

From the March for Our Lives rally that happened at our nation’s capitol to the Hawaii Youth Climate Strike and Hawaii for Black Lives rallies that occurred at the State Capitol, we recognize the urgency of this moment. However, we can and must do more.

Black Lives Matter marchers arrive at the Capitol with signs . ‘I Can’t Breathe’.
In June thousands of marchers descended on the Hawaii State Capitol to support the Black Lives Matter movement and speak out against institutional racism. Cory Lum/Civil Beat/2020

Labor rights activist Dolores Huerta once said, “If people don’t vote, everything stays the same. You can protest until the sky turns yellow or the moon turns blue, and it’s not going to change anything if you don’t vote.” The crises passed on to our generation are monumental in scale, and we need to vote for the leaders who understand that these problems urgently require bold action.

We must vote for those committed to making the difficult changes that past generations will not — because our generation has the most to lose.

To truly change the electorate, we need to be more involved in the political process. Congresswoman Ayanna Pressley tweeted, “The people closest to the pain should be the closest to the power, driving and informing the policymaking.” As our generation experiences the most pain from this year’s most significant challenges, we need to make ourselves closest to the power that can best address those challenges.

Whether it’s running for office, marching in a protest, phone banking for your favorite candidate, interning for an elected official, taking a class to expand our political education or joining a political organization, the system can’t work for us unless we invest our time and resources to build a movement for change.

Moments of reckoning like this one only come once in a generation. Yet when young people take on that reckoning, it changes the fabric of our society forever. This is our moment of reckoning.

Hawaii’s young people are a very powerful bloc of voters who can genuinely change this state’s course if we all vote. What matters to you? What future would you want to see? You have an opportunity right now to create that reality.

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About the Author

Danicole Ramos

Danicole Ramos is the vice-president of the Young Democrats of Hawai‘i.

Latest Comments (0)

And, whose fault is that mr vice-president of the Young Democrats of Hawaii?

Frank_Rizzo · 2 years ago

Speaking as one of those computer geeks from the 70's who thought we would change the world by placing information management tools in the hands of everyday people, I hope this generations time of reckoning will include the realization that decisions are best made by what you see happening around you, and by talking to people in person so you can better gauge what's in their hearts, rather than just relying on what you see on a screen.There's a real interesting documentary on Net Flix called The Social Dilemma, definitely worth watching.But as with all technology, the technology itself is not to blame, it's how we use it.Start putting your devices down and start talking to people. Some may support Trump, some may support Biden, but that doesn't change the fact that our common bonds, the things that really matter to most of us, far outweigh our differences.Focusing on differences only divides us, and division only benefits those who covet power and control.We can make Hawaii better, but we all have to work together. We can't immerse ourselves in our social media, waiting on others to do the heavy lifting for us, and cross our fingers, hoping everything works out.

toleolu · 2 years ago

Young leaders join the military. Also a solution to student debt.

MEL · 2 years ago

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