Hannah Michelle Bussa
As Election Day nears, eyes are on Nebraska’s second congressional district. Nebraska is one of only two states that split electoral votes. This brought President Trump to Omaha last Tuesday for a rally.
After Amy Coney Barrett was appointed to the United States Supreme Court, a group of local teenagers planned a protest outside of the President’s rally. One of the organizers, Isabel Gott, explained the purpose of the protest.
“We’re protesting her nomination because we don’t believe that the Supreme Court should be a 6-3 conservative majority,” Gott said. “We recognize that we can’t change this, and at this point, we’re just promoting to vote blue in Omaha. That’s what our main goal is.”
Keilly Ponce, another organizer, explained how the protest was about more than politics.
“It’s not about defending a party, it’s about doing something that’s going to make a change where people feel safer, where this country is better,” Ponce said. “It’s not just about politics, it’s about people’s rights.”
With Nebraska’s status as a swing state, Gott believes Omaha can make the difference.
“Even though Nebraska is a red state, Omaha, as a district, can be a blue city,” Gott said. “It was for Obama. That’s why it’s so important to vote blue, especially in Omaha.”
Former President Barack Obama won Nebraska’s second congressional district in 2008.
“So, we really need to focus on voting blue here, because not voting blue here could possibly cost the election,” Gott said.
Organizer Isabel Perez Valentin had not been involved in many protests before but said she felt it was time.
“It’s a moment where I really need to step up and say ‘This is what we have to get done. We need to get these points across – voting blue is what we need to do. We can’t have Trump being President for another four years, because the last four years were already tough enough,’” she said.
Gott said a re election for Trump means further damage to current social issues, including LGBTQIA+ rights, women’s reproductive rights, immigrants in cages, world issues left unaddressed, Black Lives Matter, police brutality, funding to communities and climate change.
“The Trump administration for another four years could bring a lot more damage, especially to different groups of people,” Gott said. “There’s a lot of different damages that can be possibly prevented if we get our current President out of office.”
Ponce believes it is everyone’s duty to fight for our democracy.
“Now, under the Trump administration, and everything that’s going on, it’s not just about politics and protecting a certain party, it’s about protecting people’s rights, and making sure that we have progressive change that protects more and more people, instead of oppressing more and more people,” Ponce said. “I think, especially this election, it’s so important to go out there and to do what you can to fight for our democracy, because there’s so many threats against it.”
As teenagers, these organizers spoke about how their generation is viewed and the impact of not being old enough to vote in this election.
“Our generation is so underestimated,” Osvaldo Perez, another organizer, said. “We’re put in a bubble that we’re ‘always on our phones.’ We just want other people to realize that our generation will pop that bubble and make our voices heard.”
Because of systemic stereotypes, youth are not respected when it comes to politics and important matters. The act of protesting serves as a way for younger generations who cannot vote yet do their part.
“I’m not going to be able to vote this election, so I just think it’s really important to do what we can,” Ponce said. “If we’re not going to be able to vote, the best thing we can do is change other people’s minds, get people to start thinking about it,” Ponce said.
As for those who are old enough to vote, the younger generation has a message for you: “We want people to know that they should vote, now more than ever. I feel like a lot of people aren’t considering how this may affect them, until it does,” Perez Valentin said.