The election might be over, but for some, it’s only the beginning. Young people can make a change in government, and Patrick Murphy proved it by getting elected to Congress while still in his twenties. He’ll be taking office early next year!
At 29, Congressman-Elect Murphy will be the youngest member of Congress when he takes office in January as the Representative for Florida’s 18th District. He fought a tough campaign against Representative Allen West, with West’s campaign not conceding until two weeks after the election. We spoke to Congressman-Elect Murphy about the issues facing young people, if he might experience prejudice for being so young in politics, and how young people can get more involved in political issues, especially if they’d like to run for office someday.
ACT: What initially got you into politics?
MURPHY: I got into politics because I was tired of complaining. With the rise of the extremism and divisiveness of the Tea Party, gridlock in our government reached new and unsustainable heights. Around the same time, I started my own small business to help clean up the Gulf of Mexico after the BP oil spill. There, I learned that government regulations could be more efficient and should work to protect the little guy — consumers and small businesses. Instead of just hoping that Washington would get better on its own, I decided to do something about it.
ACT: What issues facing young people are especially important to you?
MURPHY: The number one issue facing young people is the same as the rest of our country: jobs and the economy. Young people deserve stable employment opportunities and not mountains of debt. When young people can access the middle class, America is strengthened. Young people paying into Social Security and Medicare worry about whether these great pillars of retirement security will be there for them. I believe these important programs are part of what makes America great, and I am committed to strengthening and preserving Social Security and Medicare for future generations.
ACT: Are you worried about experiencing any ageism for being the youngest member in Congress?
MURPHY: In some ways, my age is an asset. I bring a fresh perspective from a generation that came of age during significant political, social, and economic change. After the failure of 30 years of me-first politics, young people today see the value in working together. If this election taught us anything, it is that the American people want a new approach–solutions that benefit the people, not just a politician’s standing. The voters of the Palm Beaches and Treasure Coast sent a message of moderation, compromise, and good government. I am proud to represent these ideals and have the energy to work hard for the people who sent me here.
ACT: Young people went out in droves to vote in the election, but now that the election is over, how can young people still be involved in the political process?
MURPHY: The political process does not end on Election Day. Young people need to stay involved in the process by continuing to pay attention to the conversation and holding their leaders accountable for the decisions they make. Our generation understands that decisions about taxes, spending, and the direction of our country are going to affect us perhaps more than anyone. Whether it’s threats to Medicare, cuts in education spending, or Internet privacy, the ramifications got young people out to vote and should be enough to keep them involved in our political system.
ACT: What are your recommendations for young people who are interested in getting more involve politically, and maybe someday running for office?
MURPHY: I encourage more young people to run for office, just as I did. I will be the youngest Member of Congress when I take the oath on January 3rd. Whether it’s on the local, state, or federal level, our voices need to be a part of the conversation. So stay involved, be an advocate for what you believe in, or run for public office. Regardless of how you do it, make sure you stay involved because the decisions being made by our leaders affect all of us and our nation’s future. You do not need a long political resume, just a love of country and deep desire to make our government work better for the people.
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