Withdrawing from the Paris Agreement, imposing a ban on abortion referrals as well as a military transgender ban, failing to pass gun safety laws, and seeking to repeal the Affordable Care Act are some of the harmful policies that the administration of President Donald Trump has implemented in less than four years. Aside from the impeachment process, the attacks on the press, and the multiple scandals that have surfaced, his administration has worked relentlessly to promote changes that jeopardize the wellbeing of people in the United States but protect the interests of lobbyists willing to make generous contributions to his campaign.
As the elections get closer, people under the age of 35—the largest voting bloc in the nation—are taking matters into our own hands with the help of NextGen Florida. Our organization is a coalition of young people committed to flipping the Sunshine State blue for the presidential election.
More than 200 people working with NextGen Florida are spending hours, day after day, under the sun and rain, having conversations on their college campuses and in their communities with the eligible voters who have the power to turn this election.
The message we want to send to Floridians is that the issues at stake are beyond party lines; they directly affect our quality of life. Denying the consequences of the climate crisis only makes our state more vulnerable to rising sea levels and catastrophic storms in the upcoming decades. This is not a partisan issue—it’s an issue that potentially puts our environment and our own lives at risk.
Our state has become the center of attention as a result of the tragic events that took place at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland and at Pulse nightclub in Orlando. The attack at Pulse was the second deadliest shooting in the history of the United States. Still, Republican legislators continue to block any meaningful action on gun safety that could have prevented these tragedies. The changes young people and NextGen Florida are promoting are long overdue. No one in our country should live with the fear of losing a relative or a friend at a school, nightclub, movie theater, church, synagogue or supermarket because the government failed to protect us—which is its duty.
Young people need to elect candidates who seek changes in our healthcare system too. People in the United States should not live with the fear of going to the doctor as a result of the lack of access to healthcare and its rapidly rising costs. A country like the U.S. should protect the wellbeing of its citizens over the interests of lobbyists attempting to prioritize financial interests over people’s health.
The line between life and death for our patients should not be marked by their income or bank accounts. We voters can no longer allow politicians to neglect the needs of people in a state of vulnerability. No patient suffering the decimating effects of an illness and a medical treatment should have to worry about the monetary cost of surviving. Now that we have the power to change the course of our country, we cannot fail our fellow citizens in need of the assistance programs that the Trump administration has demonized.
Trump’s ban on abortion referrals by family planning clinics, as well as his military transgender ban, are painful reminders that now more than ever, our reproductive rights and our universal right protecting the free and full development of our personalities are being curtailed.
Although young people are the largest voting bloc, everyone in Florida has the ability to promote real change in the upcoming elections. We can choose a path where our individual differences would no longer divide us but would make us grow stronger as a nation.
Plazas Rocha is press secretary of NextGen Florida.