What Young People Want Washington to Work On

The crowd that joyfully cheered Barack Obama's inauguration this week was full of millions of young faces. From the crowd to the congressional leaders closer to the main event, Monday was nothing but a sea of smiles: a demonstration of hope and pride and patriotism, and a belief that the American system works in many ways.

It was also a moment when the acrimony in Congress took a break, a moment of reflection that could be extended by watching a new series of short videos just released by the Children’s Leadership Council (CLC) and SparkAction where young people age 5-25 discuss what they want Washington to work on. The young people in the videos express a remarkable amount of insight into what all Americans need our leaders to address.

One of the youngest speakers speakers in the videos sums up a simple expectation:

Mr. President, I want you to hear me.

Hunger, health care, education, college affordability and gun control are among the issues on young people's minds. No doubt Republicans and Democrats will fight over legislation and budget appropriations in each of these areas. But that is not the same as solving problems. And it is not the same as operating in an atmosphere of respect. It is not the same as stopping, and listening.