Alliance for Youth Action is very much a progressive organization. Now, this is not a bad thing though it does have its quirks.
Alliance for Youth Action is an organization of many smaller organizations dedicated to getting the youth out to the polls and fighting for progressive legislation. Just to name a few projects:
- Student Debt Relief
- Automatic Voter Registration
- A $15/Hr Minimum Wage
- Youth Organization
AYA strives to make elections fairer by making sure that all Americans have the right to vote and the right to do so in a safe environment. They also take action to make the logistics of voting more accessible to those who may be otherwise inhibited. In this article I will attempt to break down what I see coming from AYA through the lens of a Millennial with an odd way of looking at things.
When researching organizations, I like to start with the standard Google search in order to get an idea of how much an organization has permeated it’s reach through the internet. How many websites are affiliated with the organization? What does their social media presence look like? What other organizations link the organization from their own? These details give a picture of the organization that their own media may not address or that may simply not be covered.
AYA was founded originally under the name the Bus Foundation, named for its original method of action, riding the bus with young people and having them go door to door to promote awareness of issues and increase polling statistics. Currently the organization is partnered with Onward Together, an organization under Hillary Clinton.
Hillary Clinton will always raise a little suspicion from me due to her general political ideology being a representation, not of what the country may need or what may be best for its citizens but instead, for whatever gets the most votes. That doesn’t mean that her involvement is inherently bad, or that the organization is bad. But it does give an idea what kind of ideological framework the organization is working with, seeing as its Executive Director was Hillary Clinton’s “Millennial Vote Director.” AYA is fairly wide left of center.
The AYA is specifically aimed at the youth of the nation, those who are recent additions to the pool of potential voters, and those who soon will be. It’s in their name; Alliance for “Youth” Action. When navigating to the group’s own website, the overall tone speaks in a language that tries to be young and not so uptight. I think that is a good thing in a lot of ways but sometimes idea and execution don’t quite line up. Many of the catchphrases and slogans seem out of touch. Taglines like “We are scrappy, we are fierce, we don’t get tired, and we win” border on cringey, making it hard to hear the message and take it seriously. And that’s sad, because the organization does a great deal of good work. Let’s get into what they actually have in the wheelhouse because I think that hip lingo aside, there is much good to be had from AYA.
Democracy Done Right
Alliance for Youth Action’s core values revolve around a progressive and inclusive set of ideologies that this country could really use right now. The idea that every American has the right to vote regardless of legal history and that no legislation should ever be allowed to pass through congress in an attempt to silence voters has a definite weight. This country was founded on democratic values and part of a democracy is that all citizens have a voice and that no one is left out. Part of including everyone means making voter registration accessible and sensible. AYA seeks a more complete voter registration where federal agencies like the DMV automatically register eligible voters and for registrations to automatically update when they move. The organization also wants to bring in pre-registration for youths down to age 16 which could significantly increase the amount of young voters who actually turn out to vote when they come of age. Voters would receive ballots in the mail with return postage paid and more local ballot drop-offs to make the process of actually voting more accessible.
A major issue that the youth of America face right now is the high costs involved with living an adult life and the higher costs of attempting to get an education. AYA sees this problem and actively promotes candidates who express the intent to make public university free for high school graduates, cap the interest of student loans so that the maximum a debtor could have to pay back is 125% of the original loan, and make financial education accessible to those who are already in debt.
AYA wants to beef up public housing, increase the number of community land co-ops and create living situations that allow the working class to save for the future instead of lining investors pockets with overpriced rent. Going further they hope to see wealth redistribution, taxes on the extremely wealthy, and government assistance provided to worker owned businesses in order to tip the power in government in favor of the working class.
Our Vote, Our Future
This project specifically aims to increase voter engagement amongst the youth and while I like the idea of a politically mindful youth, I am apprehensive of their tactics on this one. One of the major methods used by AYA to increase engagement is through the proliferation of “American Voter Guide” pamphlets that “connect elections to issues in a simple, trustworthy way – educating & turning out young voters in one fell swoop.” Sounds great right? It should anyway, but the problem is that the pamphlet was created with groups like Planned Parenthood and NextGen Climate. Clearly not an unbiased source of information and if these pamphlets do their job, they likely create a push towards leftist ideology in the youth that read them. Being left or right of center isn’t what matters, there are certainly right leaning measures taken by other organizations do the same thing for the other side of the table. I simply take issue with anything that calls itself trustworthy and isn’t upfront about its funding and political biases. It’s clear the moment you land on the homepage that this is a left wing organization but when you are young, it may not be so obvious. Information provided in a “matter of fact” format is highly effective at coercing the young and in my opinion, any political movement targeted at the youth of our country will be toeing a dangerous line between advocacy and outright brainwash. The youth are full of energy and excitement but often not a whole lot of in depth research, it is important to engage the youth from a metered perspective, especially as attention spans decrease and social media propagates ideas exponentially.
Alliance for Youth Action
I may not personally agree with some of their mission statements but I see Alliance for Youth Action as a positive force in politics. Actively engaging the young and getting conversations started will always be a healthy addition to the political landscape. I honestly just wish this organization was more focused on getting the youth involved in political conversation than in specifically getting them into a progressive political mindset. I think that the only way this country gets better over time is if we allow the youth to think for themselves, to see the past and the present and make their own ideas about what the future should look like without trying to get them to think the way we do.
Mid-South Peace & justice Center