Millennials will get a helping hand running for public office from a new political action committee dedicated to increasing the number of young people elected to government.
Run For Something (RFS), the brainchild of two veteran Democratic Party campaign organizers, already has over 8,000 potential candidates signed up and 40 on the ballot in all corners of the US.
Amanda Litman, one of the co-founders and former email director for Hillary Clinton, participated in a Facebook Live interview with the Manhattan Young Democrats Gender Equity Taskforce on Tuesday to lay out why young people should volunteer themselves for office and how RFS can help.
“We felt this was a hole that was missing in the landscape, that there wasn’t a place to go to if you were young, you were passionate, if you wanted to serve but needed help – so we decided to create it [RFS], because nothing frustrates us more than people who complain about things without suggesting solutions,” said Litman.
Out of all state legislators in the country, only 5% are 35-years-old or under, despite making up about a quarter of the total population, a discrepancy Litman called “bananas.” RFS hopes to double this percentage in ten years.
“We are committed to helping young people run for down ballot office, that means things like state house, state senate, city council, [and] school board. If you are a first or second time candidate, you are under 35 [and] want to run as a Democrat, we’re going to help you,” said Litman.
She added that the established process of candidate recruitment favors those with extensive ties to local parties and caucuses, shutting out enthusiastic newcomers to politics. Democratic heavyweights typically reach out to known community leaders, party hacks, and local business owners for office rather than running a more inclusive process.
“In practice what that often leads to is a vicious cycle of old rich white dudes running for office,” said Litman.
Litman also offered practical advice for young people eager to run. Candidates should be able to rely on a small, but committed, circle of friends and family to help staff their campaign and ensure that their own financial house is in order before embarking on what can be an expensive process.
She also emphasised the importance of engaging with local party structures.
“Join your local Democratic Party. It may be frustrating, it may not feel that fun – but it is so important, its what rebuilds us.”