Millennial Day of Action encourages students to canvass for Phil Murphy
The "Millennial Day of Action," a rally supporting Phil Murphy's gubernatorial candidacy and other Democratic candidates running for office in the Nov. 7 election, was held on Saturday in the Busch Student Center.
The event lasted all day and many participants spent the morning canvassing for Murphy and his running mate, Assemblywoman Sheila Oliver, who spoke at the end of the night.
With live music, dance performances and a guest appearance from Vice Chair of the Democratic National Committee Michael Blake, the event aimed to get a younger generation involved and excited about the state elections.
"We need to learn from what happened in the 2016 election," Blake said. "We can't just sit on the sidelines this time and rely on the polls."
The event was organized primarily by Rutgers for Phil Murphy, a student organization that began last November before Murphy was nominated as the Democratic candidate.
“He was the most authentic,” said Michael Zhadanovsky, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and the president of Rutgers for Phil Murphy. “A lot of the other candidates were already bogged down in Jersey politics. They were around, they had their chance to make changes and they didn't. Phil had the most comprehensive plan.”
Zhadanovsky said that Murphy's plans include creating a public bank in New Jersey. In an article from Politico, Murphy described the bank as a “people's bank.” It was inspired by North Dakota's state-run bank, which was established in 1919 during a populist trend against reliance on East Coast banks and which is still the country's only state-run bank.
According to Politico, Murphy's state-run bank would hold a portion of New Jersey's tax revenue, which is currently invested in various local, national and international banks. The money could then be used in ways that directly benefit the state, like giving loans to local infrastructure projects and small businesses or supporting higher education by giving low-interest student loans and investing in public universities and colleges.
“There's a billboard on I think the Garden State Parkway for the University of Maine. It says, 'Come to the University of Maine. Our out-of-state tuition is cheaper than your in-state tuition,” said Megan Coyne, a School of Arts and Sciences junior and the president of the Rutgers Democrats.
Coyne said that the issues related to the accessibility of higher education are among those most important to millennials. Other issues she identified are climate change, health care and immigration.
“If young people went out to vote, the millennial generation, we would be the largest voting bloc in the country,” Coyne said. “But most young people stay home. They don't think their voice matters. But our vote is important because the decisions that are being made by our leaders in (Washington,) D.C. and our leader in Trenton are impacting our futures."
Coyne went on to explain that older generations are not going have to deal with the impacts of these decisions, especially about things like climate change. It will rather fall on today's young people.
"So it's really important that we get out and vote and we shape our futures the way we want them to be, and that we elect not just Phil Murphy but that we elect progressive leaders down the ballot so that he has a legislature to work with to get these things accomplished for us,” she said.
Every seat in the state legislature, a total of 120, is open in the Nov. 7 election. So essentially the makeup of New Jersey's state government could change entirely after the election, Coyne said.
New Jersey and Virginia are the only states holding gubernatorial elections this year, she said. These two elections will be the first major elections since President Donald J. Trump was elected in 2016, and that the outcomes in these two states will set the tone for future major elections during Trump's presidency.
“Everybody typically thinks of (New Jersey) as a blue state. We go blue in every presidential election. Everyone thinks of it as a Democratic stronghold,” Coyne said. “We've had a Republican governor for the past 8 years and our state is in pretty poor condition as a result of Chris Christie's leadership.”
Coyne said that New Jersey is in a fiscal crisis. The state's credit score has been downgraded 11 times in Gov. Chris Christie's administration and property taxes have increased by 17 percent. Planned Parenthood has not been sufficiently funded, there is a statewide epidemic of opioid abuse and the problem of climate change has largely been left unaddressed since Hurricane Sandy.
Murphy's Republican opponent is Kim Guadagno, who has served with Chris Christie as lieutenant governor.
“(Guadagno) stood by quietly as (Christie) damaged the state heavily,” Zhadanovsky said. “Our economy hasn't recovered nearly as fast as other states'. Other states are zooming past us. That could have been us and it wasn't. She's complicit in that.”