Former Gov. Carlin encourages political advocacy in younger generations

Former Kansas Gov. John Carlin, executive in residence at the Staley School of Leadership Studies, discusses the importance of youth voter participation at a forum co-hosted by the K-State College Republicans and Young Democrats on May 2, 2016. Carlin made the case that young people have more at stake in today's political decisions than any other group of voters, and therefore should participate in higher numbers. "By that logic, young people should be a dominant force in elections at all levels," Carlin said. (Erin Poppe | The Collegian)

K-State political advocacy groups reached across the aisle to focus on a common goal: political advocacy and engagement in college students.

K-State Young Democrats and College Republicans hosted John Carlin, former Democratic governor of Kansas and visiting professor and executive-in-residence in the Staley School of Leadership Studies, for a bipartisan discussion on the importance of registering, voting and being informed citizens in government and politics Monday in the Leadership Studies Building.

“It’s not about just looking at (Republicans) and (Democrats),” Carlin said. “It’s looking across the aisle to see who’s going to make some tough decisions and solve problems.”

Garrett Miller, sophomore in political science, went to the event on behalf of K-State College Republicans.

“I came here to listen to the other side of the spectrum,” Miller said. “It was very beneficial.”

Carlin spoke one main message of getting college-aged citizens to register and vote.

“Young people should dominate elections,” Carlin said. “You have more at stake than anyone else. If we screw up infrastructure, the impact is on you. You’ll be the one with bad roads. If we don’t fund education, you pay the price.”

Carlin said he was not there to push a party or a program, but rather to push students to become politically engaged and informed.

“I can’t reach enough people to share this message,” Carlin said. “But you can. You can reach out to your friends, those you live with and others you know.”

Carlin said the College Republicans and Young Democrats in attendance could make a very large impact in the coming election.

“A group this size has the capacity to individually and collectively turn things around,” Carlin said.

Carlin said those people then need to inform others, advocate, write letters and encourage others to do the same.

“It cannot stop at registering and voting,” Carlin said.

Carlin quoted the words from an essay turned in by a previous student that he said he related to and thought a younger generation could connect with as well.

“Are you electing the resume boosters or the problem solvers?” Carlin quoted from the essay.

Carlin also said political activists and voters should reach beyond party lines and find the best candidate to make the greatest impact for their generation.

“Today everyone is reluctant to speak up,” Carlin said. “Your generation can make the difference.”

Jonah Hall, junior in philosophy and political science, said he was excited to see both organizations work together to encourage voter turnout.

“It is important for us all to get together in a bipartisan format and really understand what is at stake,” Hall said.

Hi, I'm Kaitlyn Alanis, former news editor for the Collegian and a May 2017 graduate in agricultural communications and journalism. I have never tried a hamburger and I hate the taste of coffee, but I love writing stories and sharing what I learn with our readers. By writing for the Collegian, I can now not only sing along when the K-State Band plays "The Band is Hot," but I also know that most agriculture students did not grow up on a farm, how to use an AED to save someone's life and why there is a bust of MLK Jr. outside of Ahearn Field House. Thanks for reading!