Getting Political – Tosa Youth Making their Voices Heard this Election

Wauwatosa+East+Sophomore+Henry+Dizard+preps+a+group+of+fellow+youth+activists+before+spending+the+day+in+the+community+rallying+for+racial+and+climate+justice+and+supporting+local+candidates.

Kate Pluta

Wauwatosa East Sophomore Henry Dizard preps a group of fellow youth activists before spending the day in the community rallying for racial and climate justice and supporting local candidates.

By Vivienne Andersen, Wauwatosa West High School

Phone banking, text banking, writing postcards to voters and walking miles to hang doorhangers at their neighbors’ houses are just a few of the activities Wauwatosa East Junior Lauren Wunderlich and Wauwatosa East Sophomore Henry Dizard have done this election season to make their voices a part of the political process.

For Junior Lauren Wunderlich, being a part of local campaigns was an opportunity to be meaningfully involved in the political process despite her inability to vote.

“What motivated me was the fact that I was very passionate about a lot of issues, but I obviously can’t vote, so I have been vocally active in order to express my opinions,” Wunderlich said. Her feelings are shared by a number of her peers.

Both Wunderlich and Dizard spent a significant part of their time and effort campaigning for Robyn Vining, the 14th District’s Democratic Candidate for Wisconsin’s State Assembly.

Dizard admires Vining and sees her as a role model. “Robyn Vining, running for reelection in Wisconsin’s 14th Assembly district is a true inspiration,” Dizard said. Dizard also draws inspiration from nationally known leaders such as New York Representative Alexandria-Ocasio-Cortez, Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin and Senator and former Presidential candidate Bernie Sanders.

Over the last few months, Dizard estimates he spent 4-7 hours each week working to elect leaders that he feels will best represent his values. As election day drew nearer and nearer, he says burnout became an issue.

“With so much to do, it was easy to feel overwhelmed and pile too much on. But by taking a restful day or two, a good hype session, you get through it and can get to more important work,” he said. 

Wunderlich likes to focus on the positive things to stay motivated. She noted that it’s important to just throw yourself into it, and that her new experiences with campaign work have been personally rewarding.

“They have taught me to speak up about things I am passionate about and have taught me leadership skills,” says Wunderlich.

Both Wunderlich and Dizard feel that the results do matter, however. Dizard is spending all of his time, up until the very last minute, fighting to have the candidates he supports elected.

“I am going to a polling center in Milwaukee and asking people to remind three of their friends to vote, A.K.A. vote tripling! Anxiety levels are through the roof, but doing my best on electoral work actually helps,” he says of his election day plan. Wunderlich also plans to hit the polls and maximize voter turnout alongside Dizard.

As campaigns come to a close, Wunderlich reflects on the last few months. Anybody who has been part of a campaign is exhausted, but she feels that the lack of respect she gets as a minor involved in the political process makes it especially frustrating. 

“The most challenging part is adults not taking me seriously or saying I will ‘grow out of my beliefs.'” Wunderlich says. Dizard shares this frustration, but the two of them feel that youth involvement in political campaigns is only growing, and the youth influence in this election is not something to overlook.

This story was originally published on West Side Stories on November 3, 2020.