George J. Mitchell is a former US senator and Senate majority leader. A Democrat, he has served as the US special envoy for Middle East peace, the vice chairman of the 9/11 Commission, and US special envoy for Northern Ireland. He is on the advisory board of Seeds of Peace. The views expressed in this commentary are his own. View more opinion articles on CNN.
Democracy is not for the faint of heart. It is hard work, and it takes time: Sweeping change doesn’t come from any one election.
Leading up to this year’s midterm elections, that’s one reason why so many reporters, pundits and other public figures cast doubt on whether young people would turn out to vote. They cited low youth turnout figures from past elections, and often various negative stereotypes of millennials, asking: Can we really expect change from our young people? Aren’t they just too ignorant, too apathetic, too selfish, too lazy to vote? Are they really up to the task of reshaping our democracy?
With the results of the midterms now in, we have an answer: The skeptics were wrong, and our youth are indeed ready to do the work of democracy. Across the country, young people turned out in numbers dwarfing the last several midterm elections; for many of them, it was their first time voting. Of course, the election results varied widely across the board, and in some cases, their candidate didn’t win. But I have full confidence that these youth have made a lasting, lifelong commitment to engaging in our democracy.