“Man is by nature a political animal.”  That is the simplest yet most profound statement written by Aristotle. It was the conclusion to a long proof explaining that “the state is a creation of nature…originating in the bare needs of life and continuing in existence for the sake of a good life.” Though Aristotle was describing man’s need for social order, I believe his message hints at the core motivation of youth political involvement.

Luke Vargas, founder of this publication, wrote a 2008 blog post that posed the question “What is ‘Youth Political Involvement?’”  His conclusion?

“Barack Obama is the dominant force behind the present increase in young political involvement, not a collective realization among young people that issues like the War in Iraq, healthcare, and the banking crisis desperately need to be resolved.”

Luke was only partially right; Obama was the dominant force in a collective realization among American youth that important issues could be resolved with their help.  His “Yes We Can” ideology inspired a sense of belonging that made youth (including me) feel as though they could matter in the political world, which before was vague and distant.

Youth political involvement stems from a true belief that a community can come together to make the world even just a little bit better, regardless of the details of policy and historic ties to parties.  A genuine faith in the power of collective action fuels everything from political campaigns to Burning Man to Wikipedia.  And while some may call this “Yes We Can” belief naive, it is the essence of the force that drives us to build, create, and strive towards excellence in all that we love.  What would humanity be without our collective responsibility to improve the standard of living?  Aristotle was right.  We are by nature “a political animal”; youth is drawn toward political involvement by the most basic of human instincts: the hope of a better life.