Volunteering. Its something that was weaved into our DNA from our very first bake sale fundraiser. With such an early practice of engaging and giving back to the community, millennials have earned their place among the most civically engaged generations.
While this usually leads to high political involvement, modern politics has turned into an awkward dance for most millennials. Not entirely pleased with available leadership options paired with an oppressive amount of misinformation, the data and facts driven millennials are often opting to tweet their views in lieu of casting their votes. And while we could point to a “tech addiction” among millennials, the big business of political campaigning creates a far less friendly climate for millennial involvement. Can it be fixed? If so, how?
For Rio Tazewell, regulating how political candidates can use donated funds will be the key to breaking down this barrier for all voters. As the Campaign Coordinator at People for the American Way, Rio has been building a movement to pass a constitutional amendment to regulate campaign spending.
But before his big move to Washington D.C., Rio started gaining public policy experience while in college. As a student he was involved in advocacy work to address climate change. Impressed by his dedication, a professor approached him upon graduation with the opportunity to help develop the Appalachian Institute for Renewable Energy (AIRE).
While working with AIRE, he realized that there were so many great resources, but the community needed a way to connect with each other. He then founded the Boone Community Network, a social media platform designed to help community members build relationships. After years of personal and financial investment, and significant growth with the organization, Rio began to look for the a way that he could impact the world beyond the Boone’s borders. Having visited the nation’s capital on multiple occasions, Rio decided to pack up and move to the nation’s capital. A couple of months of job hunting and he landed his current position with People for the American Way.
Tasked with getting a constitutional amendment passed, Rio and his team are planning a campaign to get two thirds of Congress on board. If you’ve been paying attention, getting Congress to do anything is already difficult, but to get a solid majority? And while the challenges are countless, Rio looks to the smaller successes. For example, about 6 months ago, their sponsors in the Senate presented the resolution called Democracy for All and it passed with by 54 to 42 vote. That success serves as an example that an amendment could be possible.
But while this career success for Rio keeps him moving forward, nothing disappoints him more than millennials who give up on their dreams. Understanding that our generation is faced with unprecedented challenges, he also fears that we will run away from change as opposed to embracing it. And while Rio has his concerns, he hopes that we continue to explore and engage in our communities. Already we have more socially conscious organizations and people, that continuing on that path can only lead to a better society.