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Senator Markey Discusses the Future of American Democracy at IOP Forum

The Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics hosts Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey for Tuesday's forum on American democracy.
The Harvard Kennedy School Institute of Politics hosts Massachusetts Senator Edward J. Markey for Tuesday's forum on American democracy. By Grace R. Bida
By Sidney K. Lee and Makanaka Nyandoro, Contributing Writers

Senator Edward J. Markey (D-Mass.) called for young voters to participate in the upcoming midterm elections in a Harvard Institute of Politics forum on Tuesday, saying that “democracy is on the ballot in 2022.”

During the event, Markey said American democracy is “under assault,” citing the rise of extremist politics and the Supreme Court’s decision to revoke the constitutional right to abortion. He emphasized the role young people will play in determining the outcome of the midterm elections and the future of democracy in the United States.

Markey said young people have historically wielded significant political influence, citing examples including gun laws and climate bills.

“Young people were concerned about gun safety laws, and they marched, and were able to pass the first gun safety laws in 25 years,” he said. “That’s young people who were standing up.”

Markey said high voter turnout among young people is especially important in light of the issues at stake.

“Voting rights. Climate change. Gun safety. A woman’s right to choose,” he said. “None of it is safe if democracy does not work.”

He added that he fears a Republican-controlled House and Senate would conduct “one constant investigation of the Biden administration” in search of scandal, rather than continuing to pass legislation.

Markey alleged that Republicans do not have a plan to manage record-high inflation or create jobs.

“All they’re doing is attacking what we had to do during the worst recession since the 1930s,” he said.

He argued Republicans use social media to advance the rhetoric that American democracy needs to be saved through drastic measures, such as the Jan. 6 riot at the U.S. Capitol. But Markey believes “America has never been better than it is right now.”

When asked about the future of American politics, Markey said he remains ambivalent but confident in the power of voters.

“I’m not an optimist or a pessimist,” he said. “The outcome is only going to be determined by young people and old who decide they’re going to take part in this historic debate that we’re having.”

Markey encouraged attendees to continue organizing and engaging in politics, saying “we have much more work to do.”

“Politics is not for sprinters. It’s a marathon,” he added.

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