Start Your Own Game: Muriel “Mickie” Siebert — Leadership Lessons for Women from Wall Street

muriel

A few days ago, I went to the best funeral I’ve ever attended.

It’s unusual to say that about an occasion normally considered sad and somber. But the memorial service for Muriel “Mickie” Siebert, a well-known finance executive in the U.S. and the first woman to own a seat on the New York Stock Exchange, goes down in my book as a perfectly delightful send off.

Mickie founded her brokerage firm, Muriel Siebert & Co, Inc. which became part of Siebert Financial and went public in 1996. She also served as New York State’s Superintendent of Banking (referring to herself in her 2008 autobiography Changing the Rules as the S.O.B.). Mickie’s career has lessons for all women, no matter their occupation:

  • Have a dream and go for it.
  • Start your own game if those in power won’t let you into theirs — or even if they will but you prefer your vision of how things should be.
  • No matter how high you climb, help other women rise and keep them close to support you.

muriel2Mickie’s was a life well and publicly lived. When Cantor Angela Buchdahl started belting out “My Way” to the mourners packing Manhattan’s cavernous Central Synagogue, a communal knowing smile spread as fast as spilled water. (This made me start planning what music I want at my funeral.)

And when Rabbi Peter Rubenstein observed that Mickie did not depend on God for anything, nor did she “suffer from undue humility,” laughter erupted.

There were many stories.

Her New York Times obituary headline initially said she was 80 at the time of her death. I told my husband she appeared to be somewhat older. Turns out my assessment was accurate. The Times later issued a correction.

For Mickie was actually 84. She gave her age as four years younger than she was. In fact, White House security once refused her entry because her birth certificate and driver’s license dates didn’t match.

Oh, there were plenty of tears amid the laughter. The Kleenex boxes thoughtfully placed at the ends of pews traveled back and forth. Hundreds of women and men from various parts of Mickie’s life dabbed their eyes when U.S. Congresswoman Carolyn Maloney (D-NY) talked about how Mickie “rewrote the rules to make them fairer.” And more tears as David Roosevelt recounted how his grandmother Eleanor had been a role model to the “pugnacious” Mickie, who had driven from Cleveland Ohio to New York in an old Studebaker with nothing but $500 and a dream back in 1954.

Speakers included people she had worked with, Friends in High Places (apparently her political friends were mostly Democrats though she remained a “bleeding heart” Republican), and women from “new girls’ networks” she’d started, and in which she remained active until her death from cancer.

That all her honorary pallbearers were women reveals why I frequently tell Mickie’s career story when I speak or teach about women and leadership. She realized it wasn’t enough to be a female “first.”  So what if you’re accepted into a formerly all-male bastion, you still need your network of women who support you. And you in turn have a responsibility to bring other women through the door you have opened.

As her friend, public relations executive Muriel Fox  said, “Muriel Siebert was one of the few prominent women in the business world who proudly said, ‘Yes, I am a feminist.’ Mickie proved that outspoken feminism is not a handicap, but is a powerful asset, in achieving business success.”

According to the Wall Street Journal , she was “…an outspoken advocate for financial literacy and for women’s advancement on Wall Street, she often did that both through encouraging others and bucking a system intent on keeping her at the margins.”

At the funeral, I sat with colleagues from the New York Women’s Forum in a section set aside for us. Though I had long admired her legendary shattering of that Wall Street glass ceiling in 1967, I knew Mickie primarily from the organization’s holiday parties. She hosted them every December, holding court with her beloved dog Monster Girl, in her elegant apartment on the East River.

Inevitably, Mickie, who famously loved to sing, would whip out song sheets. Everyone had to join in the anthem with lyrics by Forum founders including Siebert,  Fox, and Elly Guggenheimer. Sung to the tune of “One” from A Chorus Line, it starts, “We. Are. Feminist achievers, everybody knows our names (kick, kick). We are positive believers (kick) in the power of dames (kick kick kick)…”

Having seen her in that social setting, I was moved to hear a business partner Suzanne Shank recount how they’d started Siebert Brandford Shank  in 1996 and grew it to the largest women-and minority-owned finance firm. Others lauded Mickie’s commitment to transparency in finance.

These are not values normally associated with Wall Street. That her business associates chose to speak of them indicates that despite the kind of success that so often corrupts, and despite her vaunted toughness or perhaps because of it, Mickie retained her integrity and sense of social justice through a long and storied career.

What clearer evidence can there be that anything is possible if one has the vision to see the possibility, the courage to go for it, the will to persist, and the competence to carry on successfully? “The real risk,” she once said , “lies in continuing to do things the way they’ve always been done.”

The flags on Wall Street were flown at half-mast for Muriel Siebert on the day of her funeral.

“If you can’t play with the big boys,” she was fond of saying, “start your own game.”

Because she did it her way, women today routinely enjoy workplace choices she had to fight to attain.

Though Mickie’s voice is stilled, her impact — like the songs she loved — go on. We poured out of the synagogue, stepping into the bright August sunshine to the lively beat of “New York, New York.”

Be sure to watch this video on Mickie Siebert

(Originally published on www.TakeTheLeadWomen.com)

The Young Politica: Guns on Campus

If you, like me, have come to look forward to Maegan Vazquez’s “Young Politica” columns on Heartfeldt, you are going to miss her interesting take on the world through the students’ lens. During the past two semesters that she has interned for me, it has been my pleasure to see her grow and her writing develop.

Enjoy her last column here.  I told her I predict we’ll be reading her in the Washington Post in a few years.

Today, airsoft rifles closely resembling AK-47s were found in the dorm room of a New York University student, according to the New York Post. The psychology student, Bernard Goal, 20, allegedly assembled and sold them for up to $500 each. collegecrime

The story may not have been at the top of my radar (nor on the radar of the New York Post a few weeks ago, but in a post-Boston Marathon and post-MIT shootout world, I have become hyperaware of all things ammunition on campus—especially when that campus is my own.

As a member of the media, it would be naive of me to cite this as a reason for stricter gun laws on campus. Even I know that when in search for stories, a journalist often writes about what is most concerning to their audience at that moment in time. Right now, almost anything guns is a-go.

Up until recent events, campus gun laws were not an issue I was concerned with; mainly because my college doesn’t have a real campus. Rather, students take classes in buildings scattered across lower-Manhattan. What I associated with mass school shootings was a closed-off, centralized area where students typically congregate. And that’s just not an element of campus life NYU can really facilitate. But when I realized that a student from my school could potentially be selling guns within student housing for months without faculty noticing, I became concerned for my safety.

I, along with 91% of Americans, agree that it is time to instate universal background checks for new gun owners. Universal background checks may not have prevented NYU’s snafu, nor would they have the power to prevent current gun owners from having their weapons taken away. But in the long run, universal background checks would have the potential to save lives being taken by those who should not have weapons in their hands.

Unlike those who want to take the second amendment in its purest form, I would be willing to make the sacrifice of a single universal background check if it meant that innocent lives were saved.

Last week, a bill to support universal background checks failed by six votes. The bill finally made the floor four months after the Sandy Hook shooting, and nine months after the Aurora movie theater and Wisconsin Sikh temple shootings. When lawmakers take this long to fail a bill that would only have the power to benefit the American public, there’s no doubt of the power that rich lobbyists, like the NRA, have over Washington.

I never imagined that gun laws on campus would be an issue in a place like NYU, in Bloomberg’s New York City, where even moderates are castigated for their supposed lack of tolerance or unfeasible economic beliefs.

When a student at a residence hall just down my street is illegally making and selling guns from his dorm room, I had to ask if no-tolerance rules were the only rules that mattered in when it came to the safety of students. Strict gun rules on college campuses are prevalent across the country, but students would reap the benefit of safety if universal background checks were put into place.

Thank you so much for following me on my journey towards political self-discovery. I’ve loved your feedback and I am so grateful to have had this unique opportunity. Many thanks to my mentor, Gloria Feldt, for assisting me with the column and for championing my growth as a writer, feminist, and activist.

If you’d like to know what I’m up to, you can find me on Twitter (@maeganvaz) or you can find me studying and working in Washington D.C., where I’ll (finally!) be “walking the walk” this fall.

Women’s Campaign Fund Won’t Settle for Less Than Half

Monday night I attended the bipartisan Women’s Campaign Fund’s  annual “Parties of Your Choice“.

Changetheplayers600

As always, they begin with a raucous reception at Christie’s for several hundred guests, after which we all scatter around town for intimate dinners in beautiful homes. At each party, there are several WCF-endorsed candidates or elected officials who tell their tales and make their pitches.

Here are a few photos I took during the evening, which was peppered with chants of “Change the players. Change the game.”

Gala guest Ilene Wells "Wearing the Shirt"
Gala guest Ilene Wells “Wearing the Shirt”

Valeria Arkoosh of PA wants to be the first female MD in Congress
Valeria Arkoosh of PA wants to be the first female MD in Congress

Sam Bennett, President of the Women's Campaign Fund, cheers on the dozens of WCF-endorsed candidates and officeholders
Sam Bennett, President of the Women’s Campaign Fund, cheers on the dozens of WCF-endorsed candidates and officeholders

MSNBC host of The Cycle, Krystal Ball, MC'd
MSNBC host of The Cycle, Krystal Ball, MC’d

Youngest NY State Assemblywoman, Nily Rozic, bucked the Queens political machine and won in a surprise upset
Youngest NY State Assemblywoman, Nily Rozic, bucked the Queens political machine and won in a surprise upset

Clarkstown councilwoman Stephanie Hausner 'liked' this picture of her that I posted on Facebook, even though I misspelled her name
Clarkstown councilwoman Stephanie Hausner ‘liked’ this picture of her that I posted on Facebook, even though I misspelled her name

 

 

 

The Young Politica: Students Should Brace for the Sequester

Once again, we’ve waited until the last minute to try and fix our fiscal problems. This time, it’s the sequester that will go into effect on March 1st unless Congress acts. sequester

If the sequester goes into effect, about one trillion dollars of federal spending will get cut—half of the cuts going towards defense ($42.7 billion). These cuts may cause furloughs in defense sectors (military, airport security) and other cuts may leave many teachers out of jobs.

About $3 billion of sequester  cuts will go towards education. According to the National Education Association the sequester will result in: 

  • Services cut or eliminated for millions of students.
  • Funding for children living in poverty, special education, and Head Start slashed by billions.
  • Ballooning class sizes.
  • Elimination of after-school programs.
  • Decimation of programs for our most vulnerable—homeless students, English language learners, and high-poverty, struggling schools.
  • Slashing of financial aid for college students.
  • Loss of tens of thousands of education jobs—at early childhood, elementary, secondary, and postsecondary levels.

However, the education cuts can be made smarter in a smarter way. Arne Duncan, the U.S. Secretary of Education, suggested reallocating funds may ease the blow for students. He cites a previous change in budgeting:
“We took $68 billion that was going to subsidize bankers from our student loan program…put about $28 billion to cut the deficit…$40 billion to increase Pell grants. We’ve gone from six million Pell recipients to about nine million Pell recipients without going to taxpayers for a nickel.”

The sequester was built to be an ultimatum that forced politicians to revisit the government’s budget. However, delay towards addressing the issue has created bipartisan distaste for the imminent measures. Neither side wants this plan to become permanently enacted. Yet, neither wants to see their side lose, even a little bit.

Why has there been such a delay? Well, for starters, President Obama wants to replace the sequester with a new deal that includes increased taxes and spending cuts. Another option would have been John Boehner’s plan B, which would reallocate cuts towards food stamps, the Affordable Care Act, and Dodd-Frank. While plan B seems to be a manifesto of Republican ideals for government spending, these cuts most likely will not go through this time around.

As the decision date nears, schools are handing teachers pink slips that say they will not be able to return next fall. It’s not just the workers that need to worry; it’s students, too. With decreases in financial aid, special education programs and Head Start losing funds, students of all ages will be losing out on their education if the sequester is enacted as is.

The problem with the sequester dates back to 2011, when it was passed as part of the debt ceiling compromise. When a deal was reached to stop us from falling off the fiscal cliff, the sequester was subsequently delayed until March. We’ve known about this problem for about two years, yet we’re only trying to fix the cuts about a week before they go into effect. Way to go, Washington.

It is time for each party to make some sacrifices and compromises for the benefit of the American people.

 

 

The Young Politica: After the Fiscal Cliff, What?

For now, it seems that the fiscal cliff crisis has been temporarily adverted. The Senate and House approved the American Taxpayer Relief Act of 2012, which has prevented old budgeting from sending the country hurtling down the Fiscal Cliff.ypcongress

But don’t get too excited. The battle isn’t over and in some ways it’s just beginning. The new deal, which is designed to keep our economy from another recession, increases taxing on the wealthy but has temporarily halted many changes in government spending.

In further detail, here’s what some of the new bill entails:

  • Tax rates will increase for taxpayers with incomes higher than $450,000
  • Changes in estate taxing were averted
  • Middle class gains an extension on stimulus tax cuts
  • Capital gains taxes increase to 20% for high earners
  • Some estimates say the deal will provide bout $600 B in revenue over the next 10 years.

However, there’s been no real agreement on what should be done about government spending cuts. Obama argued that cuts wouldn’t be made if they didn’t produce enough revenue. The result: a second fiscal cliff-like dilemma that will happen over the next two months.  It’s exactly what  Congress has been bickering about over for the past year, so another battle ’til the bitter end is to be expected.

Student Debt

While most of us in college thought that these tax hikes wouldn’t affect us, the new Fiscal Cliff deal may affect what federal funding we receive for school. According to the New York Times:

“The American Opportunity Tax Credit, which helps defray undergraduate college education expenses by allowing borrowers to deduct up to $2,500, has been extended for five years, through the end of 2017. The Tuition and Fees Deduction, which allows taxpayers to claim up to $4000 in tuition expenses, has also been extended. The deduction, which was set to expire at the end of 2011, will continue through the end of 2013. Some changes to the Coverdell Education Savings Accounts have been made permanent. This means that the contribution limit has been increased to $2,000 from $500 and that the account may be used for elementary and secondary school expenses. Higher income phaseouts have also been made permanent. The deal permanently repeals a five-year limit for deducting up to $2,500 via the Student Loan Interest Deduction. This means that students and families can claim on their tax forms student loan interest beyond 60 months.”

But cuts in federal aid funding and work study may be approaching. For Young Politicas out there hoping to get a degree, this may not be great news.

Unfortunately, the public does not see much resolving until one of these ‘deals’ is made. This last deal has been less than ideal for both parties. For a man who built on his trademark campaign slogans of hope and change, President Obama looks a little weak in terms of how he’s failed to change the opinions of Congress.

Media expected Obama’s second term to start full throttle, but obviously a Republican-run Congress had other ideas. His original proposal for solving the Fiscal Cliff crisis did reflect some of his ideals, but getting that plan into action was not easy. By January 1st, the Obama administration had softened up to Republican requests. Today’s Taxpayer Relief Act looks very different from what the POTUS and his administration drafted up. However, solving the crisis required agreement from both sides–not just a cave in from the Democrats. John Boehner was also heavily criticized by his own party for cutting a deal.

This bill does little to decrease the deficit and is a band-aid for the problem more than it is a stitching solution. So now, more than before, it is time to recognize that as a nation, we are still at risk of defaulting. This could mean drastic changes for the country and in our personal lives, too. Even if it does not seem like an immediate danger, the threat still needs to be dealt with in a more economically sustainable way.

The fiscal deal is not even close to where we need to be. So sit back and relax, because now it’s time to wait for the House to iron out another proposal over the next two months. The upcoming talks will—hopefully—provide a more long-term solution.

 

 

The Young Politica: Five Wishes for the New Year

As we sing the last hoorahs of 2012, young politicas and politicos everywhere may feel a bit of uncertainty over where the next year is headed. We’ve seen many victories for our interests, but what will newly elected policy makers do to make sure that they earn their keep? flagfireworks

And what’s next for us?

Here are my five hopes for young people and politics in 2013.

1. For young people to go from special report to necessary demographic in national media.

It seems that the results of the November election came as a shock to the media and pollsters. We have proved that we swing elections and that we here to stay. And our age group piques the interests of many demographics.

I hope that instead of getting a special write-up in Huff Post College, we will make it to the front page.

2. For young people to remain politically active.

In the coming year, young people must remain engaged with the political process to remain relevant. Just as the media remembered us in the 2012 election, they can as soon forget about us in 2013!

3. For young people to become educated on all sides of political issues.

Is there really a need for me to tell you that politics is a multifaceted operation? By learning about what goes into the political process on a local level, one can understand the root of many issues. When one understands the motives behind an opposing candidate’s policy, it can widen perspective. Let’s not forget to learn about U.S. foreign policy and about various political systems around the world.

4. For a meaningful gun talks resolution.

We are already in the midst of these ‘talks‘. However, since the Newtown shooting incident, there has been no serious policy implementation from the White House that ensures the safety of our nation’s children from someone with deadly weapons. In the new year, I hope that there can be bipartisan agreement on this widely debated issue.

5. For a sustainable Fiscal Cliff agreement.

There’s been little improvement since the last time you heard me talk about the fiscal cliff. While there has been tug and pull on either side, neither Democrats or Republicans seem to be satisfied with compromise. However, the compromise that is upon the horizon of the new year will not satisfy everyone.

“Whatever we come up with is going to be imperfect,” Sen. Harry Reid said, according to USA Today. Maybe expecting a financially sustainable fiscal cliff plan is just wishful thinking.

In 2012, we saw meaningful change that was primarily influenced by young people. Recently, our choices have shifted policy and elected politicians.

We have proved our potential and it is time we be recognized.

 

The Young Politica: Dissecting The Susan Rice Conundrum

Before the November elections, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had already forthrightly assumed responsibility for the Benghazi debacle that resulted in the death of four Americans including much-admired Ambassador Chris Stephens’

But neither her statements nor subsequent departures of State Department officials has quieted the echo chamber of blame.  The buck stops at the top, and an independent panel report  found plenty of buck to lay on Clinton’s desk. She must own and start to fix the problems of inadequate security at US embassies before she departs.

Still, it’s hard to see the trashing of Susan Rice and the subsequent GOP drumbeat about Hillary Clinton as anything other than blatantly intended to discredit her stellar performance on the world stage this past four years and to mortally wound her candidacy (previously declared unbeatable by Newt Gingrich should she make a second presidential run in 2016.

As Meagan Vazquez points out in her “Young Politica” column below about Susan Rice, the facts are never just the facts but rather come laden with political and cultural meaning.

And by the way, I’m thrilled to tell you that Maegan is going to continue her column into the new year! So if you are one of the many followers of this smart column from a student’s point of view, we’ll return to publishing it on Mondays in 2013. See you then!

After the initial boredom post-election, the political media immediately focused on the eminence of the fiscal cliff. Since those talks are still going nowhere, media sought a new subject to sink their teeth into: Susan Rice and the secretary of state bid. Rice, who was being vetted to take over Hilary Clinton’s role as Secretary of State, has been the subject of scrutiny by some for being the ill-informed messenger to national media after the Benghazi terrorist attacks.

Rice went on five political talk shows saying that the newest information linked the Benghazi attacks to an anti-Islam video protest in Cairo. Rice was relaying the message from that day’s intelligence brief, which was the same information given to Obama that morning. By the time she was on air, however, the link had been debunked. The attacks were not linked to the events in Cairo, but rather, they were premeditated events linked to al-Qaeda.

Soon after Rice relayed the information provided to her, Senator John McCain slammed her at the Washington Ideas Forum for claims she later learned were not correct.

Complications arose after McCain said that he would join the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, which  must first pass on nominations for secretary of state.

Even after Rice spoke to McCain and Linsey Graham, and admitted that her talk show statements were “partially incorrect,” Graham and McCain continued in their stance—they would not support Rice’s nomination.

In an effort to avoid any more complications, Rice withdrew her name from nomination. In a letter for the President, obtained by NBC News, Rice said:

“I didn’t want to see a confirmation process that was very prolonged, very politicized, very distracting and very disruptive because there are so many things we need to get done as a country and the first several months of a second term president’s agenda is really the opportunity to get the crucial things done.”

It seems odd that these two senators in particular would choose to attack Rice, especially since both of them have made blatantly false statements in front of a political forum. Perhaps we should remember also some of the statements by Colin Powell and Condeleeza Rice, too. The magnitude of their statements is infinitesimally greater than the slip up Susan Rice soon admitted was a mistake. Yet, their careers remain unblemished.

Maybe it was her race, maybe her gender, or maybe it was just bad timing. However, as pundit Keli Goff writes for The Root, there is some irony in seeing validity in “the man who presented Sarah Palin as presidential material labeled…a Ph.D., Rhodes scholar and former assistant secretary of state—unqualified.”

The Young Politica: Why Be Politically Active After Elections

Now that the election is over, many young voters will likely retire their ‘concerned citizen’ badge until presidential primaries start-up again. Being a politically active young person, however, is more than just voting for a president. There have been dramatic repercussion in the last four years due to youth voter inactivity between presidential elections.

In our own instant gratification generation psyche, many of us thought we had already created change by electing one man into the U.S. presidential seat. When it came to the midterm races in 2010, there was a 60% youth voter decline from 2008.

If more of us would have voted in 2010, perhaps there would have been tremendous changes. Perhaps the youth vote would have decided the election like it did in 2012.

Isn’t the rip-and-tear of the House over the past two years, all the ‘gridlock’, worth taking a stance? Inform yourselves about local candidates and then go vote! Standing in line once every two years is not a bad price to pay if it benefits the entire nation.

It is up to us to keep youth’s interests at the forefront of what policy makers in Washington think of first. How do we do this? There is no easy answer or quick solution. However, consistently electing  officials who understand our struggle is key.

We are in the midst of a paradigm shift that will most definitely make the minority voice, the female voice, and the young person’s voice louder than ever (they were the demographics that decided the 2012 election after all); but this shift does not guarantee that this voice will be heard. We must reach gender parity in Washington and we have to continue championing those who play to our interests.

As I have said before, an effort at a grassroots level is also necessary in order to create change. It is difficult to get a meeting in with John Boehner to talk about student loan debt, but it is a bit easier to speak to your local congressman about it, or to start a group that has the same concerns.

In the months I have written this column, I have learned not to take everything at face value. Thorough research on a candidate means doing more than listening to what one news network has to say about them during a broadcast; it means discovering all of the candidate’s positives, negatives, and how they perform in the ‘grey areas’, too. It also means getting past the jargon and excess information, a more difficult task, to grasp how much a candidate’s political stances could affect me and thus, the young, female voter.

Equal representation in politics is a war we need to keep fighting. The young voter cannot sit idly waiting for someone else to make the changes. The young voter must take a stand. And stay actively engaged in the political process until long after we can be called “young.”

The Young Politica: Dropping Down the Fiscal Cliff

Since the U.S. reached the debt ceiling in late 2012 and the country’s credit rating was downgraded for the first time in history, talks of reaching a fiscal cliff have loomed.

The fiscal cliff is a term used to describe what will happen after the start of the new year if there is no budget reform. If Congress does not reach a deal extending tax cuts by the time the Budget Control Act of 2011 goes into effect, taxes will be raised for anyone in the workforce. The result may be another recession.

How can it affect you?

If congress does not reach a deal, $661 billion in new tax hikes will start affecting your first paycheck (a two percent increase) after January 1st. On January 2nd, $78 billion in sequester hikes will begin cutting on some government and private sector workforces, likely causing layoffs and budget cuts.

How can this problem be solved?

A solution is an extension on tax cuts for the middle-class. However, Democrats and Republicans will most likely take this to the eleventh hour. John Boehner admitted that Congressional progress towards reaching a compromise has reached a stalemate.

The House will vote on a middle-class tax cut extension next week, which may stall our economy’s cliff diving.

According to CNN, gsectors that will be affected by the cliff-dive come January 1st include:

  •  Medicare,
  • Food Safety and Inspection Service agency,
  • The CDC,
  • The NIH,
  • WIC,
  • The Maternal, Infant, and Early Childhood Home Visiting Program,
  • The Office of Lead Hazard Control and Healthy Homes,
  • Gallaudet University (an education program for the deaf and hard of hearing),
  • Social Security.

It seems that Obama’s pressure towards Congress to pass a tax-cut extension are more “bargaining tactics” and less “honest compromise.” Obama has doubled his request for higher revenues, and Republicans aren’t having it. Orrin Hatch called the plan “a classic bait-and-switch on the American people.” Mitch McConnell even burst into laughter when Geithner outlined the White House’s plans.

Obama has warned of a ‘Scrooge’ Christmas if Republicans in Congress don’t sign off on a deal.

Here’s a fiscal cliff countdown just in case you haven’t started saving that extra two percent.

The Young Politica: The Generational Communication Gap

In recent U.S. presidential elections, there has been a bipartisan effort to engage youth voters. The effort has been seen in candidates’ web/social media efforts, the recent upsurge of multi-party activism on campus, and the growth of youth organizations promoting youth political involvement.

It’s quite a change, given that we college students were more likely to be shooed away from the speaking platform in the 1960’s and 1970’s.

It seems that Democrats and Republicans have reacted quite differently to this paradigm shift. The youth vote comprises of a larger percentage of racial minorities than any older demographic. Sure, younger generations tend to lean left, but (as with most young people) there is room to change. As I said in my last column, the effort could have been increased, but Republicans gave up our voters before the race even began. Democrats are also appealing to our diverse generation by having women and racial minorities make up a collective majority of their party in Congress.

Thanks to the internet and organizations like Rock the Vote, youth activism has reached a new day. In the digital age, our rallies are resonated by re-tweets,  our voices don’t need to be screaming in picket lines, but rather, logically tearing politicians a new one on our blogs. Perhaps my embrace of the passive take on youth involvement is hard to swallow, but today social media activists are often more effective than someone who has no digital reach for their cause.

For our 19% piece of the demographic pie, the fight was won by the group of young people involved in the Young Americans for Obama campaign (circa 2008). Meanwhile, the Romney campaign tried to relate to youth voters by refusing to have anyone under 30 lead the team. It’s amazing how a solid marketing plan really does appeal and engage my commercial generation of instant gratification.

Yes—American politics are currently dominated by old, mostly white, men. But before we nominate Kid President for the 2016 presidential election, let’s see how both parties react to this years race. In 2016, I predict the strongest push by both parties for the youth, minority, and women’s vote. The portrait of the United States as seen by American politicians needs to be drastically altered.