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At the tail end of last year, NBC News published a poll that showed 71 percent of Millennials think there should be a third major party. Sixty five percent of respondents polled between the ages of 18 and 35 said the country is on the wrong track and that neither the Democratic or Republican parties represent the American people anymore.
Millennials will soon outnumber Baby Boomers at the polls. This means millennial dissatisfaction with the political direction of this country is about to rear its head.
I’m 26 years old. I grew up in Denver and now live in Athmar Park. I’m running for state Senate and recently I’ve had the chance to get out in our community and talk to our neighbors. After hearing from Denverites from all different walks of life, one thing is resoundingly clear. The establishment of both the Democratic and Republican parties needs to pay attention to the growing distaste of 18 to 35 year olds. The millennial generation, and all that follow after us; will no longer accept the excuses for the continual gridlock and failure of two-party politics.
A resistance is beginning to rise in America. From “#MeToo” to “#NEVERAgain” you are beginning to see new voters in this country stand up and flex their political muscles. It shouldn’t surprise any establishment leader of either party that three-fourths of my generation want more than two choices to choose from at the polls. Millennials have witnessed the most salacious and corrupt nominating processes for both national parties, perhaps in our history. The Democratic Party actively used backroom mechanisms to deter Bernie Sanders and chose a candidate because it was, “their turn” despite the will of the heart of the party. Meanwhile the Republicans decided to overlook foreign influence, racism, xenophobia, and the rise of the alt-right movement to support an unqualified candidate; all to accomplish the goal of cutting the taxes of the wealthiest Americans, adding trillions to the deficit and further increasing the division of wealth in this country.
Here in Colorado, my generation has watched our leaders hatch harmful legislative ideas like TABOR, neglect our infrastructure, oversee the biggest spike in the cost of living in a lifetime, and stand idly by as our campaign finance system has become more corrupt and influenced than ever.
As we have entered the workforce, millennials have found that the two-party system is no longer functioning for the middle class; and it is definitely not functioning for the youngest of us. Millennial voters want political leadership that is socially liberal and fiscally moderate. We want both new investments in our infrastructure and want to see it financed responsibly. We are happy about the expanding melting pot in Colorado, but we want to see this growth addressed now before our infrastructure is at capacity and it is too late to manage our growth. We want to sound the alarm on affordable housing, and to clearly send the message to our leaders that our generation cannot afford the cost of living in our current economy. And most importantly, we want to see private interests and corporations exorcised from our campaign finance system.
I began this election campaign running as a lifelong member of the Democratic Party. Now I say we deserve something more. Today I write to you as an Independent candidate for Colorado State Senate because the two-party system has failed all of us, and we all deserve better choices. We should never have to choose between the lesser of two evils in a democracy; yet time-and-time again two-party politics give us two imperfect, watered-down candidates that are bought and paid for by special interests.
I believe we are ready to challenge the order of our political process.
Right now the average age of a Colorado state legislator is 57. If elected, I will be the only member under 30 in either chamber, as well as the only Independent senator in an equally divided chamber. If I win, I promise to be an honest broker independent of two-party politics that will advance the millennial agenda and nurture bipartisanship.
Youth activism is surging under Trump. New youth resistance movements are growing nationwide. It is more important now than ever to support youth activism and allow younger voices to be heard in our state legislature. This November, let’s buck the two-party establishment and embrace a millennial mindset.
Peter Smith is a Denver native and candidate for state Senate District 32