Leaders of Youth Movements Say Biden Must Earn Their Generation’s Support By Making Progressive Commitments

Millennial and Gen Z leaders send letter to Biden calling for policy and personnel commitments

Wednesday, April 8, 2020

Media Contact:
Carmel Pryor, Senior Director of Communications


On Wednesday afternoon, Millennial and Generation Z-led progressive organizations released an open letter to Vice President Joe Biden, expressing concern over his inability to earn the trust of the vast majority of voters under 45 years old and suggesting a number of policies and personnel commitments he could make to bridge the generational divide in the Democratic Party.

“With young people poised to play a critical role deciding the next President, you need to have more young people enthusiastically supporting and campaigning with you to defeat Trump,” reads the letter signed by Alliance for Youth Action, IfNotNow Movement, Justice Democrats, March for Our Lives Action Fund, NextGen America, Student Action, Sunrise Movement, and United We Dream Action. “Exclusively anti-Trump messaging won’t be enough to lead any candidate to victory. We need you to champion the bold ideas that have galvanized our generation and given us hope in the political process.”

The coalition has requested several personnel commitments, including: 

  • Pledge to reject current or former Wall Street executives or corporate lobbyists, or people affiliated with the fossil fuel, health insurance or private prison corporations, to Biden’s transition team, advisor roles, or cabinet.
  • Pledge to appoint elected leaders who endorsed Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren as co-chairs of his transition team, such as Representatives Pramila Jayapal, Ro Khanna, Ayanna Pressley, and Katie Porter
  • Appoint a number of trusted progressive voices on his campaign’s numerous policy working groups, including the policy teams of Governor Jay Inslee, Senator Sanders, and Senator Warren; union leaders Mary Kay Henry, Bonnie Castillo, and Sara Nelson; criminal justice reformers Aramis Ayala, Bryan Stevenson, and Larry Krasner; and others
  • Pledge to appoint a DHS secretary commiting to dismantling ICE and CBP as we know them
  • Commit to appoint a National Director of Gun Violence Prevention in the White House
  • Commit to appoint advisors to the White House National Economic Council and Office of Management and Budget who believe in the principles of the Green New Deal

The coalition has also requested that Biden commit to policy proposals, such as:

  • A $10 trillion Green New Deal stimulus package
  • A comprehensive plan to reduce gun deaths by 50% in ten years
  • Allowing the government to manufacture generic prescription drugs
  • Free undergraduate tuition and the cancellation of student loan debt
  • A wealth tax
  • Executive actions on immigration and committing to end the collaboration between local police and ICE
  • Marijuana legalization
  • Abolishing the filibuster

“In order to win up and down the ballot in November, the Democratic Party needs the energy and enthusiasm of our generation,” reads the letter.

In March, Representative James Clyburn said Biden “should incorporate as much of the efforts being proposed by Bernie Sanders as he can.”

The letter advised Biden’s campaign that a message around a “return to normalcy” does not energize millennials because their political views have been shaped from a “series of crises that took hold when we came of political age.” Even before the coronavirus epidemic, the unemployment rate among recent college graduates in the U.S. was higher than our country’s unemployment rate for the first time in over two decades and the median income among the bottom half of college graduates was about 10 percent lower than it was thirty years ago.

“The coronavirus pandemic has exposed not only the failure of Trump, but how decades of policymaking has failed to create a robust social safety net for the vast majority of Americans,” reads the letter.

In response to those challenges, the youth-led organizations making up the coalition have powered a number of social movements that captured the hearts and minds of many voters in the Democratic Party: Occupy Wall Street, undocumented immigrant youth, a resurgent climate movement, Black Lives Matter, the Fight for $15, and others.

“The victorious ‘Obama coalition’ included millions of energized young people fighting for change,” read the letter. “But the Democratic Party’s last presidential nominee failed to mobilize our enthusiasm where it mattered. We can’t afford to see those mistakes repeated.”

As documented in extensive polling and a number of primary contests, Biden struggles to garner the support of voters under 45 years old, while Bernie Sanders’ base is made primarily of voters under 45. On Super Tuesday, Biden won only 17 percent of voters under 45. Bernie Sanders won voters under 30 in Michigan and Missouri by 76 points and 57 points respectively, according to exit polls. Democratic voters under 45 tend to be more progressive than their older counterparts. 

See open letter here.


The Alliance for Youth Action is a nationwide network of organizations building the progressive political power of young people across America to strengthen our democracy, fix our economy, and correct injustices through on-the-ground organizing. The Alliance supports and scales the work of local organizations to build a movement of young people, by young people, and for all people.