Social media and young people running for office

Madeline Bruce, Editor-in-Chief

A characteristic of Generation Z, or “Gen Z,” is that we don’t trust the establishment. What is the establishment?

It’s the institutions, the people that shape our society – churches, schools, government organizations and government officials.

The list could go on. It is the institution that has been in place since our country was founded, and it’s inundated by old, white men.

The question can be posed as to why this is an issue. Why don’t young people trust a system that has been in place for centuries and has gotten us this far?

Well, it might have gotten us this far, but it did so on the backs of the marginalized and oppressed; it did so on the backs of Black men and women, of indigenous men and women, and men and women of color. And that’s the issue.

How can we trust a system run by people who benefit from the exploitation and marginalization of others?

In my Gender and Rationality senior seminar this week, we talked about how we can bring down this establishment and kick the old, white men out of office. One of those ways is to run for office ourselves.

Now, sure, young people can say they are interested in running for office, but are they actually going to do it? It’s very time- and money-consuming, and young people aren’t typically the most financially stable.

I know that for me, it feels like it would be virtually impossible to start a campaign between school, work and what little money I have that doesn’t go toward living and school expenses.

Accessibility is key, and that is no more true than in elections. That’s why I was pleasantly surprised when I learned in my Gender and Rationality class that Snapchat now has a feature that teaches you how to run for office.

If you search “run for office” on Snapchat, a feature will come up in the results that you can click on. You enter your ZIP code and five of the issues you care about most, and then it shows you the positions that you can run for.

If I type in the ZIP code “16502” for Erie, it gives me five offices that are up for election this term: state representative, lieutenant governor, governor, U.S. representative and U.S. senator.

It also gives you the deadline to file as a candidate, the primary election date, the general election date, the minimum age requirement, residency requirement and a full description of the position.

While for many of the seats, like the U.S. Senate, lieutenant governor and governor, you have to be 30 years old to run, you can run at 21 to be a state representative or state senator.

Not only does this Snapchat feature offer offices up for election and detailed information about each position, but it also gives a list of partners that tailor to your demographic and can support your campaign.

On my list are Running Start for Young Women, Vote Run Lead for Reform-Minded Women and Ignite for Diverse Gen Z Women, among others.

Even if you’re just thinking about running, you can sign up with one of the organizations through the app.

I think the “Run for Office” feature on Snapchat is a great step in the right direction. It’s more than just saying “get out and vote!” or “don’t be afraid to run for office!” like many social media websites do. Change takes physical action, like running for office, and not just changing the logo of your social media website for a week.


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