I rarely promote my own candidates or clients because it feels awkward, but my newest client shocked the hell outa me. I mostly do new media work with the campaign (despite being a youth politics expert) so let me preface all of this by saying that I have - not once - had a conversation with this candidate about the youth movement, about young people, about young voters, or the best ways to do youth outreach. Not once.
Jari Askins, the current Lt. Governor of Oklahoma spoke at the Young Democrats of Oklahoma convention several weeks ago and I have to say it was probably the first time I've ever heard a candidate actually dispel the constant myth that young people don't participate or get involved.
"For those of us who have been in political office for a number of years, we sometimes hear from our local parties that 'we just can't get the young people involved. We just can't get the young people interested.' And my observation when I was State Representative and then as Lt. Governor has been that you guys are the ones who are involved. And a lot of times its the local parties who are not as involved as they ought to be."
Also, I can actually verify that she does read what people post on Twitter, but the fact that she was able to cite specifics to audience members again just shocked me.
This is also the first time I've ever heard a political candidate - either one of my clients or one I've heard speak, who actually understood our potential beyond volunteerism. She actually talked about the remarkable ability young people have at coming up with creative solutions that older generations wouldn't have thought about. She talked about the ability of youth to think globally because we're more connected globally and she talked about a key component to heartland youth specifically - jobs for young people within our own state.
"We need your help in figuring out what the ideas are to put in practice so we can tell every child in Oklahoma that a public education is a quality education in this state. We need to be figuring out what you think are the best ways to keep those kids in school before they drop out. And then we have to figure out for all of our young people, whether they stay in school or they don't stay in school how do we help you get the skills that you need to fill the jobs that we have in Oklahoma, so that you know that you have the ability to stay here to meet your own bills here to do things in this state where your roots are."
I've worked for a lot of candidates, really good people that I believe in and who have been elected or should have been elected, but few of them understood young people on any kind of meaningful level. I only work for good people, and I'm proud of what they do, but seriously this is the first time with any candidate my old political cynicism fell to sheer amazement. Watch the speech here:
So, even though its coming from someone who's working part time on the race, please know I've never had a client, not now... not ever who has ever been so on the nose. I'm excited to be involved.