Two of Congress' youngest members joined millennials in Center City Philadelphia on Wednesday afternoon to talk Uber, the student debt crisis and other issues affecting the country's youngest generation of voters.
Philadelphia's own U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Seth Moulton, D-Mass., spoke on a panel as part of a caucus hosted by the Millennial Action Project, a nonprofit that aims to encourage political cooperation through leadership by millennials. Boyle and Moulton answered questions from Millennial Action Project Co-Founder and President Steven Olikara and people in the audience, and talked about why millennial participation in politics is vital to the country's future.
"The focus on millennial issues is not something you hear about. Most people respond where voters are, so seniors get the most attention because they vote most," Boyle, 39, told NBC10 after the panel. "But issues in the millennial generation matter. It is easy to be apathetic and cynical, but difficult to believe in something and pour your heart and soul into it ... but to create change, you have to bother to show up."
Topics of discussion tailored to millennials included a bill Moulton sponsored to allow the federal government to fund ride-sharing, like Uber and Lyft, as well as legislation Boyle is working on to create better refinancing options for student debt.
"Millennial Action Project aims to answer how this new generation will govern America in an era of polarization and gridlock. It feels like we can’t get things done any more in our country at the national level. So, we activate millennial policy makers the first of our generation to be elected to office, congress, and state ligatures to foster bi-partisan participation," Olikara said in an interview with NBC10 ahead of Wednesday's caucus.
Perhaps the oldest person who came to the event, held on the 45th floor of the Comcast Center, was Sherry Blumenthal, 70, of Springfield Township, Montgomery County. Blumenthal, a recently retired doctor specializing in obstetrics and gynecology, said she's an avid Hillary Clinton supporter and received an email about the event, so she decided to attend.
"This is the generation coming up that is going to run this country," Blumenthal said. "And I think it's really important to understand them and support them."
The panel drew people from around the country who are in town for the Democratic National Convention to discuss that new generation and its issues and politics.
"Millennials are powerful in this life, and it is time for millennials to assume leadership. Seeing them gives me so much hope that they make progress on the issues that matter," Justin Fairfax, a candidate for lieutenant governor of Virginia, said before the panel. "They are hopeful, optimistic, and daring. Our country is in need of people like them right now."