Why and how youth activists can make real political and social changes.
Warren, co-founder and CEO of the national political youth movement Generation Citizen, makes his book debut with a pragmatic, anecdote-filled guide for empowering young people to “improve lives for themselves and for their communities.” High school and college students, as well as young professionals like himself, have the ability “to change the current narrative of our democracy” by becoming “politically active not just on Election Day, but on every single day of the year.” The son of a foreign service officer, by the time he entered college, the author had lived in multiple developing countries, where he had witnessed the “fragile nature” of emerging democracies as well as learning about atrocities such as genocide in Darfur. At Brown University, he built a student movement to persuade university, city, and state pension funds to divest their assets from companies with business in Sudan, a project that gave him a “crash course” in local politics and informed his founding of Generation Citizen. Working in schools to promote civics education, GC begins by identifying issues that matter most to students and then helps them narrow their concerns “to one local issue and identify a root cause of the problem,” articulate “a specific main goal” and work on tactics for achieving it. Enacting change is a complex process, Warren writes, that involves studying the issue, developing expertise, constructing a narrative to make the issue accessible to others, engaging in productive dialogue with opponents, and amassing supporters. “It is crucial to recognize,” he points out, “that problems are fundamentally intertwined.” An issue such as climate change intersects “with other political realities, like poverty and housing.” It is too easy, he warns, “to oversimplify a story and suggest that it is the only story.” Warren cautions young people that failure is inevitable but should not be discouraging. The best antidote, he writes, “is to steady for the failures, embrace them, and learn from them.”
An enthusiastic, supportive manifesto to inspire political engagement.