Young adults think all hope is lost when it comes to our country. A majority believes our democracy is either in trouble or failing, according to a recent Harvard poll of America’s 18- to 29-year-olds.
Let that sink in. A majority of young Americans believes our nation is in trouble or fundamentally failing. And that is after they turned out in record numbers for the 2020 elections.
Where have we failed? Have our weak economy and pandemic uncertainty, overlayed with polarized rancor and brittle hostility, eroded their hope for better days?
We cannot print enough stimulus money to buy the confidence of our young people and rebuild their hope. We have a collective responsibility here.
The answer isn’t more government, as some contend. The answer is within each of us.
Let’s make it crystal clear for rising generations — the future is theirs. At Gettysburg, Abraham Lincoln called this nation an unfinished work, aspiring to “government of the people, by the people, (and) for the people.”
Government belongs to the people; we don’t belong to the government. We — unified as Americans — we are the answer, the way to restore hope.
If you take time to talk with Utahns, you’ll see what I mean. The best part of my 2022 United States Senate campaign is having conversations in every Utah city, wearing my red running shoes, on my “Walk a Mile Tour.” So far, I have visited more than 70 communities.
From Garden City to Santa Clara, I’ve listened to people — local leaders, Main Street’s small business owners, teachers, ranchers, parents, health care workers and entrepreneurs. Remarkable Utahns are doing remarkable things all over our state.
When we turn off distractions and truly connect with our neighbors, our hope in humankind and this country is rekindled.
Based on what I’ve heard from Utahns across the state, I offer Utah a compact, a vision for America. I want each young person and every voter to know I am a different kind of leader and am committed to remain connected, to ensure proximity between electors and the elected. This is my pact to fight for the right things. It includes eight principles:
1. Clarity: Active listening and straight talk go both ways.
2. Stability: Inflation-fueled deficit spending is immoral and unsustainable.
3. Stewardship: The responsibility for water, land and air is ours. Now.
4. Family success: When families thrive, communities thrive.
5. Infrastructure integrity: Support state-driven solutions and ensure accountability.
6. Innovation: The nation that scales clean, affordable technology solutions will prosper and lead.
7. Health and well-being: Prioritize wellness and access.
8. A well-ordered republic: Reform failing institutions to rebuild trust.
Real connection restores hope. I’ve seen it as I worked on some of Utah’s thorniest challenges, whether I was in public policy, or at a global, faith-based nonprofit, or in a private technology firm.
Throughout my leadership career, I’ve witnessed the power of meaningful connection. It breaks down barriers, finds solutions, overcomes hard times, and breathes life into organizations.
Today’s crisis of connection in our nation is a crisis of confidence and trust. A crisis of proximity, understanding and shared vision. Our leaders are too far removed from our everyday reality. It makes us feel like the fabric of our nation is threadbare.
To be clear, democracy itself is not in crisis, but democracy is unquestionably threatened when future generations deem it failing!
I assure you, across this stunning state, our heartfelt resolve and devotion to the red, white and blue, and all it stands for, has never been deeper. Perhaps we just can’t seem to collectively see that because we’ve stopped communicating with each other, while leaders talk at us through unreliable, distorted, self-serving platforms.
It is up to us, the people, to reduce the distance between policymakers and the governed. We want truth. We want straight talk.
American confidence and hope will be renewed when we feel connected to a unified U.S., when we feel ownership for its outcomes and shared stewardship for its resources.
My Compact with Utah gives me hope. It originated in the hearts of Utahns statewide and is grounded in shared first principles.
Ronald Reagan said, “… (B)ecause we’re a great nation, our challenges seem complex. … But as long as we remember our first principles and believe in ourselves, the future will always be ours.”
I hear echoes of Reagan more than three decades later in inaugural poet Amanda Gorman’s words: “… (T)he dawn is ours before we knew it. … (A) nation that isn’t broken, but simply unfinished. … And so we lift our gaze, not to what stands between us, but what stands before us.”
I invite you to stand with me in this unfinished work, to move toward a principled vision for a brighter tomorrow. May our children not only hope, but “find light” and believe the dawn is theirs. May we again be a united America.
Ally Isom is a business and community leader, a mother and grandmother, and a 2022 Republican candidate for the United States Senate.