The unlikely coalition that first sent 29-year-old Joe Biden to the Senate in 1972 included an army of first-time voters – many of them under 21 years of age. With a polarizing Nixon White House, historic racial protests following the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr., and a seemingly endless war in Vietnam, Biden added his voice to America’s unruly discussions on war, addiction, the environment, prison reform, ethics, and equality. Even before winning his first election, he made a priority of shaking up the old guard, insisting on the inclusion of youth at every level of politics. It’s a key reason he won.
In the months preceding ratification of the 26th Amendment (giving 18-year-olds the right to vote) Biden — only 28 himself and the youngest member of Delaware’s 1971 Democratic Party Renewal Commission – helped revamp the state’s Democratic Party. He did this by demanding youth inclusion. “We must identify issues of interest to young people — poverty, racism, the draft, pollution — and develop legislative programs,” he said. “We must integrate youth into the party organization at all levels.”
That fateful right-to-vote ratification for 18-year-olds arrived July 1, 1971 — two weeks after my 18th birthday. I was a teenage volunteer charged with the logistics of implementing youth education and volunteerism for the ’72 Biden campaign and son of state party Chairman Henry Topel, who helped usher him onto the national stage…READ MORE on RealClearPolitics