Dear grandchildren and young voters:

You know that your grandparents love and want what is best for you (even when you do not see that you want it for yourselves).

Stay in school; go back to college, and get that degree. You have what it

takes to finish, and you can do so with honors. With that degree, you will

make a wonderful life for yourselves. You must give it your best but

be willing to suffer some difficulties. With courage and faith, you will

be successful in life.

Grandparents never give up, nor do we stop pushing our grandchildren to their fullest potential. As grandparents, many of us have worked hard to love, support, and persuade you to become successful adults and responsible citizens. That responsibility includes voting in national, state, and county elections.

Many of you between the ages of 18 and 34 often question why you should vote. Some believe that their vote doesn’t matter; therefore, they do not vote. Some young voters see no critical changes in our country’s essential issues over time, so they protest and do not vote. As a grandparent, I must tell you why you must vote and vote Democratic up and down the ballot. The most powerful way to get government bodies to address your issues of justice, job opportunities, environment, health care, assistance for the poor, and college loans is to vote. In a democracy, you have the choice to vote for candidates that best represent the values and issues important to you, recognizing no candidate is perfect. Several articles suggest that young voters may sit this election out; this would be tragic mistake.

Your voices are essential in this election. You must express your voice through your vote. You must also understand that your voice through protest, the right to assembly, and voting are not in conflict. They go together. Power over these issues you passionately care about begins with your vote. After the election, you must continue to engage your elected officials to push your concerns.

We, as grandparents and elected officials, have not always shown the best examples. Some of us have not voted in past elections as we should. Some of us were just plain sporadic — voting only for our friends and relatives. As grandparents, we need to set the right examples all of the time.

Some elected officials call our youth, the poor, and senior citizens asking for their votes. They promise to address the issues affecting our lives. Too often, after the election, these issues take a back seat or are forgotten altogether. Elected officials should keep their commitments made to the voters.

For me, voting Democratic is for decency, unity, leadership, empathy, respect, in addition to the critical issues that grandparents and grandchildren passionately need to move their lives forward.

Let your voices ring loudly with your vote!

Eva Clayton is a grandparent and former congresswoman who lives in Warren County.