Op-ed: Non-partisan group The Political Party aims to ‘cultivate new leaders’ via event series

Ped Mall
Photo by Alan Light

By Misty Rebik and Ravi Patel

As a business leader and a non-profit leader, we have different areas of expertise and focus, but we both look around our community and see so many overlapping social issues that affect our own lives, the lives of those around us and the future lives of our community. We know that getting down to solving these issues requires action now. No longer can the millennial generation — one that is naturally tech-savvy and entrepreneurial — wait around for someone else to do this important work. Our time is now.

That’s why we’re organizing the Political Party on the Pedestrian Mall in downtown Iowa City, set to launch on Friday, Oct. 7 at 7:30 p.m. The Political Party is about rolling out the welcome mat to the next generation of leaders in our own community, the innovators of our time and the people who are ready to take action and be the change we so desperately need in our world. Our event is free and open to the public.

It is clear that our community and our country are facing rather extraordinary social problems. From climate change to the #BlackLivesMatter movement, from clean water to income inequality — people are demanding more of our policymakers, yet they remain frustrated by gridlock in Congress, and are seemingly ready to give in to apathy and cynicism and give up on our political system. While the current state of our politics is not encouraging, we must recognize the incredible opportunity before us: We don’t need to wait for our system to get better; we ourselves can step up to the plate and lead.

This is what the Political Party was created to do: cultivate new leaders. We want to help young leaders find their voice around issues they care about and give them a platform to leverage their influence. We want to help them create the policies that will ultimately improve the communities in which they live. This event is about inspiring everyday people — artists, musicians, poets, teachers and the like — to see themselves as leaders of the change we need. If you’re tired of the same type of elected officials, maybe it’s time for you to run. If you’re tired of the same old policies that get the same results, maybe you need a seat at the table. So, if you’re ready to get to work — and dance, drink and meet amazing people while you’re at it — this event is for you.

We’re going to talk issues: How younger Iowans can recognize and leverage their influence; ideas on how to create a moral economy; and the importance of civic engagement and what it means today. Everyone will be plugged into the important work already happening in our community with almost two dozen community partners. And we’re going to plan action — how you can make a difference on the issues that you care about: not tomorrow, but today.

The Political Party event series is the first of many events to come that will serve as a launching pad for people who are ready to roll up their sleeves and think creatively about solving our social problems — all while enjoying awesome beverages and great artists. We know that it’s going to take new ideas, creative partnerships and new people at the table to change politics as usual. So don’t be fooled by our title. The Political Party really is a non-partisan party all about getting in touch with people who share the same desire to serve, and who are ready to go all in for a better future.

In this upcoming election, the millennial generation will be the second largest voting bloc to make their voices heard, if they so choose — 69.2 million souls and counting. In election cycles to follow, we will surpass Baby Boomers becoming the single largest voting bloc in America, if and only if we choose to participate. If we are our to leverage our power in numbers, then we must decide to actually vote in elections. The Pew Research Center reports that despite our share of the electorate, our generation has the lowest voting record. While voting is just one way to effect change, it is a fundamental building block for collective influence in our democratic system. The Political Party seeks to bridge this gap between issues and influence; slacktivism and action. “Give me a place to stand,” said Archimedes, “and I will move the world.” The Political Party is our platform and it’s time for us to move this world forward.

We think the Political Party is the event you can’t miss this fall, because it’s not about us, it’s about you. Let’s get political.

This article was originally published in Little Village issue 206.

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