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Debate shows desperate need for younger candidates

Dana Kim/YJI

Portland, Oregon, U.S.A — I thought my vote for president was set by the end of the primaries in early May. 

As I watched the debate flash on my phone’s screen, I instantly knew it was a failure. The facts were not verified even as Trump spread heinous lies. And it only appeared that undecided voters would be pushed to vote for Trump’s leadership. 

Most glaringly, these debates highlighted the failures of American political party leadership through Biden’s debate performance. 

During this campaign, a growing group of young Democrats have been acknowledging well-founded doubts about Biden’s age hindering his reelection.

In a time with scant youth engagement, the lack of a young candidate is only serving to increase their doubts about the United States’ performance on the global stage. 

On Instagram, an audio by @alli_belairs parodying the Tiktok hit “Man in Finance” with 524,000 views says: “I’m looking for a presidential candidate/ good person/ no felonies/not 80.” 

Across Instagram, I witnessed my fellow classmates grappling with the lack of a youthful candidate that could represent their values – not two old men who were running a rematch of the last presidential election. 

“This is so embarrassing,” one of my friends wrote on her Instagram story regarding the debate. 

Throughout both Democratic and Republican leadership – but especially Democratic leadership, the party fails to uplift younger leadership into dominant roles. 

Despite Gen X having a significant number of people in the population, a member of Gen X has still not run for president. And the number of Millennials and Gen Zs in the government are even less. 

But this doubt has become commonplace, breaking trust in the political institutions necessary to run the country. 

Even my mother, an immigrant, dislikes the political situation.

Is it possible that the lack of the youth vote is not the fault of people my age – but the fault of the institutions that failed to allow members of Gen X, Millennials, and Gen Z into running for major roles such as the presidency? 

Somehow, I still have hope.

With this failure, we have a powerful opportunity to tell the leadership of political parties that we can change the tide of the election by replacing Biden with a young, grassroots candidate. There are so many good options on the table. 

Dana Kim is a Reporter with Youth Journalism International.

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