In the last two presidential elections, we have seen just how powerful young people can be when deciding the direction of the country.
We’re vocal; we’re passionate, and we vote.
We vote for candidates who care about us and support the policies that help us and our families get ahead, like raising the minimum wage, equal pay and protecting the environment in the face of climate change.
But, perhaps, there’s no issue that affects as many young people today as college affordability.
President Obama is taking this issue on, with a proposal to provide two years of tuition-free community college to students with strong academic records.
Such a privilege would be a game-changer for countless students across the country.
To highlight what this proposal means to our generation, for the first time ever, we’ll hold our convention at a community college.
College students from across the country will be learning how to be effective advocates for policies, like the president’s plan to make college more affordable, which help the middle class and young people and continue to move our country forward.
The theme of this year’s convention is "Build the Bench," where we will focus on training college Democrats on how to become future leaders in their communities.
We’ll hear from speakers, such as DNC Chair Rep.Debbie Wasserman Schultz, US Senator Elizabeth Warren and US Secretary Of Housing and Urban Development Julián Castro, who have been fighting to make college more affordable for students across the country.
With these Democrats and President Obama, we have accomplished so much, from strengthening the Pell Grant Program, to helping students afford college through the American Opportunity Tax Credit and Pay As You Earn Loan Repayment Program.
Across the nation, Democrats are working to create a future where those heading into college find their education to be affordable, and those exiting students are not crushed by school loan debt.
They dream of a future where if you work hard and play by the rules, there’s a quality job waiting for you at the end of the road; a future where the deck isn’t stacked against middle-class families, so all Americans have a shot at the American Dream.
On the other hand, Republicans are more interested in prioritizing their special interests at the expense of middle-class students.
Time and time again, the Republican Party and their 2016 candidates have proven to be out of touch with the concerns of young people today.
They talk about connecting with the Millennial market, but fail to recognize it’s their platform that’s the real problem.
As we celebrated the historic Supreme Court ruling last month that love is love for all Americans, many Republicans clung to their outdated opposition to same-sex marriage.
As we celebrated the fact that we can stay on our parents’ insurance plans until age 26, thanks to the Affordable Care Act, each Republican presidential candidate threatened to repeal the healthcare law.
And, of course, access to affordable college is under assault by the Republican party, especially among 2016 presidential candidates.
When asked about college affordability, Jeb Bush said it was just more “free stuff.”
As governors, Scott Walker and John Kasich both slashed education funding in their home states.
And in the Senate, Marco Rubio, Ted Cruz and Rand Paul want to slash Pell Grants, which would make college more expensive for many.
Democrats understand the importance of higher education, which is why President Obama proposed to make community college free for everyone willing to work for it.
There are so many issues important to the Millennial demographic, not just as college students, but also as young Americans and as future leaders of this country.
Fellow students, the next time you step into a voting booth, let’s make sure our country is moving forward and not turning back to the failed policies of the past.
It’s up to us to build a brighter future not just for ourselves, but also for future generations.
I’m confident that with the efforts of young people, the work we do now will make all the difference when it’s time to elect the 45th President of the United States.