The impact of young people’s activism and political engagement has been at the forefront of the national political conversation, and many think American politics needs an upgrade. Teen Vogue’s latest digital cover package – “Meet the Young Politicians Running to Save America” – examines the potential impact young voters and candidates will have on upcoming elections, including the unprecedented number of young people in their teens and early 20s are getting involved in their communities and running for political office at all levels of government in the United States – from the local school board all the way up to Congress.
Teen Vogue‘s new crop of interactive covers stars features three such young candidates –Ja’Mal Green (22), who is running for mayor of Chicago, Kat Kerwin (21) who’s running for Providence (RI) City Council Ward 12 against an incumbent who was first elected to the seat the year she was born; and Hadiya Afzal (18), who announced her candidacy for DuPage’s District 4 County Board in Illinois at the age of 17, two months before she was even able to legally run for office.
Each of the young politicians – Ja’Mal, Kat, and Hadiya – is featured in a video cover introducing their campaign and what they plan to do to bring change. The release leads up to TeenVogue Summit: #TurnUp. Taking place in NYC this weekend (June 1-June 3), speakers include Al Gore, Dolores Huerta, Cynthia Nixon, Common, Amandla Stenberg, Emma Gonzalez, and more.
Below are select quotes from the new Teen Vogue cover feature. Read the full cover story at Teen Vogue, and watch “PSA: How to Vote For The First Time,” in which the Ja’Mal, Kat, and Hadiya take you step by step from registering to vote to casting your ballot.
Ja’Mal Green (22) on why he never planned to run for office:
“It was something that I felt would corrupt you. I’d always look at leadership and saw that politics were corrupt, and I thought we could do better on the outside.”
Ja’Mal on the support he’s seen since heading out on the campaign trail:
“Middle-aged and elder [voters] are excited about this campaign. It was shocking. I think I’m presenting something that’s refreshing. I’m someone who’s not tainted, someone who’s never been in politics, someone who’s never taken dirty money.”
Kat Kerwin (21) on the support system she’s found among other women running for office across the country:
“I think the best part of it is in my mind, whenever something is going wrong with the campaign or I don’t know how to do certain nitty-gritty things, I have dozens of women…where I could immediately pick up the phone and they would drop anything and they would help me even though they have their own campaigns to be running and their own families or jobs. I think that’s a really special thing.”
Kat on the hope that her generation will rise to the occasion in this political era:
“I’d just really hope that young people who are reading think about…what an important moment in history this is. We don’t get many moments like this in our lifetime.”
Hadiya Afzal (18) on a key learning from her time as an intern for the DuPage County Democrats:
“…concerns were across party lines, because at a certain level of local politics, people want the same things: clean water, safe roads, good schools, low taxes. So we found that policy really mattered to people, but they didn’t know who to speak to.”
Hadiya, who is Muslim and wears a hijab, on facing ageism and discrimination on the trail:
“I think people just see my scarf and they age me up automatically. I have to be conscious of that when I’m speaking to people.”
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