Members of youth-led advocacy groups and Congress

Members of youth-led advocacy groups and Congress held an event announcing the Youth Agenda on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. on March 6, 2024.

(Photo: Rep. Ro Khanna/X)

To Regain Support, Groups Say Biden Must Embrace 'Finish the Job' Youth Agenda

"In 2024, you cannot win higher office without the youth vote, and you cannot win the youth vote without the Youth Agenda."

On the heels of Super Tuesday and ahead of the annual State of the Union address, a quartet of U.S. advocacy groups on Wednesday unveiled the "Finish the Job" Youth Agenda, inspired by the reelection campaign of Democratic President Joe Biden—who is expected to again face former Republican President Donald Trump.

"In 2020, young people sent Biden to the White House. In 2024, how many young people turn out for Biden will determine if we stave off a second Trump presidency," said Sunrise Movement political director Michele Weindling in a statement. "Right now, young people are shouting for what we need from Biden to mobilize our generation this November."

"President Biden must do everything in his power to fight the climate crisis, to end gun violence, to not cater to the right at the cost of immigrants' lives, and he must call for an immediate and permanent cease-fire in Gaza," she asserted.

In addition to the climate-focused Sunrise Movement, the coalition is made up of Gen-Z for Change, which works on a variety of issues; March for Our Lives, a gun violence prevention group; and United We Dream Action, a national immigrant network.

Their "bold, progressive" agenda features demands on climate change, criminal justice reform, democracy, economic justice, education, gender and LGBTQ+ equality, gun violence prevention, housing, immigration, and reproductive justice.

"Our Finish the Job Youth Agenda is a clear reiteration of the issues that matter most to young constituents and a roadmap for President Biden and his administration to follow if they want to earn our support," said Michelle Ming, political director of United We Dream Action. "With the Youth Agenda, we're giving Biden our winning playbook."

Members of the organizations announced the agenda at a press conference on Capitol Hill, where they were joined by Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) and Democratic Reps. Jamaal Bowman (N.Y.), Greg Casar (Texas), Ro Khanna (Calif.), and Summer Lee (Pa.).

"Young people across the country are boldly demanding a cease-fire, affordable housing, Medicare for All, and for our leaders to tackle the climate crisis. It's time we listen to them," declared Khanna, thanking the groups for their "vision and advocacy."

The coalition also sent a letter to Biden, explaining that "we have reached out to you before to urge you to listen to our generation, and today we are asking you once again to work with us to fight for better."

"We are a generation that grew up through crisis, but we have big dreams," they wrote. "We dream of a country where we all have access to healthcare no matter what, where we don't have to hide under our desks during school shooter drills, where families aren't broken apart at the border, where we're not crushed by student loan debt, where we have clean air, clean water, and a livable future, and where our leaders can expansively hold safety for all of us and vigorously fight for a lasting cease-fire and against Islamophobia and antisemitism, rather than write blank checks for genocide."

The letter continues:

Going into 2024, you must run on a bold and progressive agenda that invests in our generation and recognizes the need for immediate action to combat the issues of our time. We need you to prove to our generation that you are fighting for us every step of the way.

We want to acknowledge the leadership your presidency has provided—from the passage of the Inflation Reduction Act to the announcement of the American Climate Corps, to the Bipartisan Safer Communities Act and the establishment of the Office of Gun Violence Prevention, your administration's attempt to cancel student loan debt, and your solidarity with United Auto Workers on strike and the halting of Liquified Natural Gas projects—we appreciate these efforts.

At the same time, we hope you can understand this is not enough. We need far more.

After stressing the important role that younger voters have played in recent elections—a trend expected to continue—the coalition concluded that "if you commit to prioritizing these actions, young people will turn out and make 'finishing the job' a reality."

Coalition leaders echoed that point. Gen-Z for Change executive director Elise Joshi pointed out that her group "launched a tool last week that enabled people across the country to send over 4 million emails to members of Congress urging for a cease-fire."

"On top of that, millions are marching, divesting, donating, learning, and amplifying," she continued. "So to the Biden administration and our representatives, youth are awake and unwavering."

March for Our Lives executive director Natalie Fall similarly said that "however you square it, young people are inheriting a broken and imperfect world. But as young people step into their political power, we are not accepting things as they are. Young people have organized and stood up for ourselves and our future. It's time for our leaders to do the same for us."

"So we are saying to any candidate who wants our vote: Listen to us, govern with our needs and our future in mind, and we will deliver you our votes," she added. "We know that our vote is a precious and powerful thing. In 2024, you cannot win higher office without the youth vote, and you cannot win the youth vote without the Youth Agenda. If President Biden really wants to 'finish the job,' this is the roadmap he must follow."

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