An open letter to congress

Marvin Mathew is a One Young World Ambassador from the USA. 

As we speed closer to the expiration of the Millennium Development Goals our focus must shift to what comes next in the Post-2015 agenda. It is in each of our national interests to set our own Post-2015 Strategy with regards to domestic policies and indicators such as poverty, unemployment, access to quality healthcare and educations.

With half of the world’s population under 25 and a quarter between 12 and 24, it vital that our generation takes leadership in the conversations that shape our future. As I said during the Leadership & Governance Plenary Session at the One Young World Summit in Pittsburgh, ‘..the world is full of young people poised and ready to lead today. We must stop waiting.’ Whatever the incumbent leadership leaves us today is the world we will inherit tomorrow. 

With this in mind, I penned an open letter to the United States Congress. I call on my One Young World friends and colleagues around the world to do the same. Share your thoughts and ideas with your government. We are a gathering place for youth and should help amplify each other’s voices. 

My letter to congress suggests a framework that will build civic participation over the next two decades while taking down barriers that hold people back from success. It is not a complex framework and must be built upon. Four quick points from my letter:

Campaign finance reform

Campaign financing and the rising influence of the wealthy on politics takes a devastating toll on domestic policy. Unlimited spending in elections is deadly for any democracy. Participation should be open to all people, but when a US House of Representatives seat costs $1.7 million or a Senate seat costs $10.5 million, access is limited. 

Congress must be a confluence of ideas from a variety of mindsets. This is how we can address stifling inequality, incarceration/rehabilitation and tackle our most local and overlooked problems. 

Effective campaign finance reform helps make politics inclusive thereby making America stronger. Congress must also not be for sale to the highest bidder, but we find these days that it is. OpenSecret.Org has an online Center for Responsible Politics where anyone can see how much people and organization are donating for candidates that align with their agenda. 

Reforming our campaign finance laws and regulations is a good start and MayDay.US, run by Harvard Law Professor Lawrence Lessig, is out to do just that through his citizen-funded Super PAC to end all Super PACs.

Balance the checkbook, make a budget: fiscal debt

The United States of America is $17 trillion in debt and counting. We cannot survive these debts and must correct our trajectory before it is too late. Closing this gap is not going to be easy. There are going to be cuts everywhere, but it is important that Congress is mindful of the people on the other end of the cuts.

Cutting food security programs is not the way to fix national debt. No American in need should turn to the government only to find $30 of food a week. Let’s invest in our people and build programs to help them beat the odds. 

Promote opportunity, create better social/economic mobility

The United States has troubling inequality. While we preach about the American Dream many of our communities are nowhere near realizing it. 

Opportunity Nation did a good job indexing and visualizing this through their Opportunity Index, a tool which assigns letters and grades to communities in America based on social and economic indicators.

Every child needs access to a quality education. Competence in our global village is a must; we need to build thinkers. Children of all races and ethnicities must have the computer literacy, financial literacy and language abilities to prepare them to be able contributors in our economic structure.

Inclusive politics

We will be best equipped to tackle these problems if we are inclusive and invite everyone to work together. This means an equal platform for all people; young people, women, and minorities alike. All stakeholders should be at the table and play a part in planning as well as execution. Corporations are opening their doors to these groups because they build better products for their users. It’s time that politics recognizes the same. The voice of America is more diverse than what the average age, gender, and religion of American Congress would express. Diversifying both the senate and the house is a strong step to building a more capable Congress that is able to plan more effectively for the future. 

We have amazing potential and have proven ourselves capable of building solutions. Lets take the next step, join together and make our voices heard. We can solve our problems and history shows us why we must; our future is dependent upon it.

What do you think of Marvin's recommendations? What do you have to say to your government? Let us know on Twitter and get in touch at [email protected].

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Published on 22/08/2014