Young professionals might sometimes feel intimidated having discussions with political figures, but that certainly doesn't describe the group of young professionals who participated in the Fusion track at this year's Mackinac Policy Conference. Fusion members were given the opportunity to engage with some of Michigan's political leaders at a private dinner held at the Gatehouse during the conference. Participants included Michigan Democratic Party Chairman Mark Brewer, House Republican Campaign Committee Chairman Rep. Pete Lund (R-Shelby Twp.), Republican Candidate for Secretary of State Sen. Cameron Brown (R-Fawn River Twp.) and State Representative Dan Scripps (D-Northport).
Panelists were reminded that young professionals consume their political information in a much different way than their parents. In that vain, each panelist was asked to make their pitch to the gathered crowd in "twitter fashion" (i.e. in 140 characters or less). Each struggled with the limitation, but acknowledged that our leaders need to be cognizant of young professional's expectations to remain engaged in the process of governing in ways not possible before the age of social media.
When asked to share about their journey to politics, particularly as young professionals, each panelist told a different, but similar story of wanting to make a difference and getting involved. Brewer talked about taking on the most menial tasks, including mopping the basement in campaign office as the launching pad for his career. Sen. Brown spoke of his experience as class President at T.C. Williams High (of "Remember the Titans" fame) in Alexandria, Virginia as the football team taught the city about racial reconciliation, fund spoke of his own dissatisfaction with the status quo, and political defeats hardening his resolve to make a difference. Finally, Rep. Scripps spoke about his experiences from growing up as a professor's son and travelling abroad to work in the...