Op-Ed | Young and first-time voters: this is the election that defines our future

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By Mariusz Dudziec

Immigrating to New York from Poland was arduous for my mother. She worked selflessly at her job assisting the elderly, with a second shift at home, taking care of my sister and me, on repeat for decades. She was focused on achieving the American dream for us, which she did.

I’m 27 and, before I was laid off in March because of the pandemic, I was a porter at an American cultural icon, the Empire State Building. It was a union job, with employer-paid healthcare, a salary that increased every year, paid time off, and a pension— benefits that these days seem off-limits to working people my age.

Young people might be the hardest hit age group by the economic turmoil caused by the pandemic, with 35 per cent saying that they or someone in their household have lost their job. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, Americans 25-34 face the longest duration of unemployment compared to any other age group right now. I was lucky enough to receive unemployment benefits, including the $600 supplement from the CARES Act. But that extra has run out, and I am feeling it.

One thing is clear to me – for young people to have a future, we need to do something young people don’t do as much as they should. We need to vote, and we need to elect a president who will provide economic opportunity young people need to succeed – Joe Biden.

Biden plans on expanding unemployment and healthcare benefits through the Affordable Care Act to put the economy back on track and save hundreds and thousands of lives. He will actually listen to public health experts to stop the spread of the coronavirus, and safely reopen businesses.

Biden recognizes that young people are the future. Biden’s plan to support and expand unions will create more sustainable jobs like mine, so high school and college graduates can find jobs with good salaries and benefits. People with school loans will get partial, or even full, debt forgiveness. He’s proposed a $15,000 tax credit for first-time homebuyers, more than similar programs during the Bush and Obama administrations.

Biden has promised that one of his first actions will be to create a pathway to citizenship for Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) and Temporary Protected Status (TPS) recipients. Lifting up immigrants is how families like mine succeeded; it pains me to think that more immigrant families would be torn apart under a second Trump administration.

I think young voters feel they aren’t represented in this election, but Biden will listen to our needs. There is no good reason to skip this election. Not voting at all is a vote for Trump. Vote for Biden this election, vote like your lives depend on it.

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