by William Milner, ELCA Witness in Society [about the author]

As I consider candidates vying for public office, it’s crucial that their discussions align with my values and concerns. In a world inundated with political discourse, I find myself among young voters seeking leaders who address the issues that matter most to us. I envision a political landscape where leaders prioritize values that resonate with our generation’s aspirations.

“In 2024, Gen Z youth alone will make up over 40 million potential voters—including 8 million youth who will have newly reached voting age since 2022—making up nearly one fifth of the American electorate. Together with the youngest Millennials, young people ages 18-34 are poised to be a potential force in the next presidential election,” reports Tufts University Center for Information & Research on Civic Learning and Engagement. “But young people are also living through trying times in their personal lives, for our country, and around the world that make their continued civic participation far from guaranteed.”

With all the constant noise about life altering events in the United States and around the world, it can be maddening to feel like politicians do not care about the issues that really matter.

One key issue at the forefront of my mind is the ongoing conflict in Gaza. Leaders who acknowledge the horrors of the Israel-Gaza situation and advocate for a just and peaceful resolution are vital. A candidate who actively opposes the occupation and advocates for diplomacy over conflict would capture my attention and support.

Another pressing matter is the weight of student debt, a burden carried by many young Americans. Leaders committed to addressing this issue by advocating for comprehensive student debt relief programs and more affordable education options would earn my trust. I imagine a future where the pursuit of knowledge is not hindered by financial constraints, allowing every young person to reach their full potential. I think perhaps proposals like interest-free loans or capping interest levels so former students do not have to pay double their original loan amount could be helpful.

As a passionate advocate for social justice, I recognize the urgency of tackling gun violence in this country. Leaders who prioritize comprehensive gun control measures while addressing the root causes of violence are crucial in creating safer communities. Supporting candidates who advocate for sensible gun legislation will align with my vision for a safer and more inclusive society.

Equitable education funding is another cornerstone of my political ideals. Leaders who champion fair and adequate funding for schools, addressing systemic inequalities in the education system, would resonate with my commitment to a just society. I dream of a future where every child has access to a high-quality education, regardless of their zip code or socioeconomic background.

In the pursuit of a better future, I urge fellow young voters to consider supporting leaders who share our values and prioritize the issues that matter most to us. By engaging in the political process and supporting candidates who align with our vision, we can contribute to shaping a more inclusive and progressive society.


ABOUT THE AUTHOR: William Milner (he/him) is serving with the ELCA Witness in Society advocacy staff in Washington, D.C. and is a passionate graduate student pursuing a master’s in public policy at George Mason University. Raised as an African Methodist Episcopalian, Milner brings a unique perspective and a deep sense of community to the ELCA. Milner formerly taught in both private and public schools and takes the skills he learned there with him everywhere. His academic pursuit is driven by a deep-seated desire to bring about meaningful societal change and empower marginalized communities.