isten up, politicians: We are powerful.” This was the call to action written on the event page for MOVE San Antonio’s Millennial Civic Happy Hour – one that I’m not so sure was heard.
As stated on their Facebook page, MOVE San Antonio “is a grassroots progressive, non-profit organization working to ensure youth voices are heard and considered in the policy-making process.” They accomplish this in various ways, one including holding events such as the Millennial Civic Happy Hour. The goal of this event was to give students (aged 18-26) and young professionals (aged 26-35) an opportunity to discuss the issues important to them with over 65 local political candidates. But from where I was standing, there wasn’t many young faces.
My expectation of the night was that I’d be side by side with my peers, discussing various political matters with receptive candidates over locally crafted beers. The reality was that the young were scarce, and the candidates weren’t as approachable as I imagined they’d be. I made my rounds searching for a millennial to talk to. I’d say that there were definitely more young professionals than students present. From the time I was there, the only people who appeared to be students were some of the MOVE San Antonio staff. When I asked one of the women working the event about the lack of a younger crowd, she presumed the cold weather was to blame. January 17th was indeed a cold night, yet I’ve never heard of that stopping people from attending an indoor event.
Deciding to shift my focus to the candidates, I squeezed my way through the tightly packed rooms looking for at least conversation to jump in on. As I was starting to chat with a young woman who claimed to be there with the talent, two candidates approached us back to back. The first briefly spoke about what he was trying to achieve, while the second just told us what she was running for and then handed us her card. Before I could ask her anything, the talent was being announced, and our interaction ended.
By the end of the night, all I had were pockets full of leaflets and business cards, and nothing else to remember their owners by. I made one last attempt to join a conversation among four women. I told myself that I wasn’t some awkward girl intruding or eavesdropping, but giving my attention to one woman sharing her goals and opinions to others. I even attempted to ask a question, despite my presence hardly being acknowledged.
I’ve never thought of myself as a particularly assertive person, and I sometimes get nervous like many people my age do, but I’m confident that I was showing enough effort on my part. Considering the goal of the event, I thought that my attempts would have been met with more interest. And despite the fact that I’m not always taken seriously as a journalist, what with my being a young woman, I hoped that I would be given more consideration as a member of the press. Nevertheless, I was still a student wanting to become more informed and have my voice heard, and should not have been overlooked at an event intended for just that.
Unfortunately, my opinion that politicians often disregard the youth remains unchanged. However, I must also add that my disappointment also lies with my peers. Naturally as a generation grows older, they show a growing interest in the policy-making process that affect their lives. Therefore, I’m glad to see that opportunities such as this are increasingly being offered to the younger half of my generation in San Antonio.
To attend any political event and see people of my age range representing is wonderful. But for the vast majority of those who do not take to do so, cannot later complain about the lack of change.
This is the generation of change. I truly have the highest hope for my peers. That being so, I will continue to encourage them to attend events, and hope for a better outcome the next time around.