On March 7, MAP President Steven Olikara joined fellow Wisconsinite and Future Caucus Vice Chair Rep. Mike Gallagher to speak with students from the University of Wisconsin about what issues are impacting them most—and the power they hold to implement change.
Rep. Gallagher started the discussion by emphasizing the need for more conversations on hot-button issues. He mentioned that when it comes to contentious debates, people tend to retreat into their “tribalistic corners” without truly listening to the other side, but that the next generation of leadership brings the enthusiasm to change that mentality.
Olikara echoed Rep. Gallagher’s emphasis on millennials’ power to invigorate the system, reminding the group that throughout history, young people have been on the front lines of creating change. Millennials across the country are already changing politics for the better, and Olikara argued that they have an opportunity to make a “tremendously positive difference on democracy if society gives them the tools to do so.”
When asked what millennials can do to refresh government, Olikara said it’s about thinking creatively to make change we never thought possible. “We don’t make change preaching to the choir,” he said, “we make change by bringing new voices into the conversation.”
Among the topics discussed were guns, healthcare reform, Wisconsin’s millennial brain drain, and President Trump’s recently proposed tariffs on steel and aluminum. Maintaining status quo is profitable, Gallagher highlighted, but what’s needed is bipartisan consensus on these issues to shake up the system.
Olikara concluded the conversation by addressing the students in the room, saying that Rep. Gallagher and MAP’s Future Caucus members represent the best of public service and that they, too, can make a positive difference.