Youth in politics: sophomore Paul Kramer takes political initiative

Haley Pflasterer, News Editor

Maybe you’ve seen his organization, Political Youth Co., officially known as Institution for Youth in Policy, on your Tik-Tok’s “For You” page. Perhaps you’ve attended one of his club meetings, or maybe you’re just now learning who he is. Either way, sophomore Paul Kramer shows the many possibilities of being politically involved as a teenager.

Kramer began as an intern for multiple Stanford professors, completing research focusing on health policy. As a result, he received a rare opportunity. In Jan. 2020, Kramer flew across the country to the United States capital for an internship at the White House. “I had the privilege of working with two economically involved people; one was the Assistant Secretary of the Treasury, and another one was the [Council of Economic Advisor] CEA chair,” Kramer said. “At the White House, I would attend hearings and briefings. I got to see virtually everything that happens at the White House.”

After his unique experience, Kramer co-founded an organization called Institution for Youth in Policy (IYP), a governmental nonprofit. While youth voices cannot be heard by ballot, Kramer’s organization gives them a stage through social media. “Political Youth is a platform for youth to share their opinions, and with our accounts, we basically give them a platform to do so,” Kramer said. “Our mission is to try to highlight youth voices and to bridge the gap for self-partisan politics.”

IYP has two TikTok accounts, one with 35,000 followers and another with 25,000 followers, both devoted to youth in politics. Besides their social media presence, the organization has eight different chapters in the U.S., with one in Palo Alto, one in Seattle, three in Texas and two in Washington, D.C.

Despite having a primarily social media based organization, Kramar is concerned over the lack of research people do before posting. “In D.C., I went to a fairly bipartisan school, and the students were 50% Republican and 50% Democrat,” he said. “People felt that unless they have actually done research or written a policy piece on it, it was not worth posting. I think it’s important to educate yourself before posting on social media.”

With the school year starting, Kramer chartered a new political club at Gunn. “The Civil and Political discourse club has two sponsors: Political Youth and Real Talk,” he said. “In partnership, we have guest speakers come in, and we run sessions that switch off with each other: one session being educational and one discussion-based session. Through the club, we try to promote bipartisanship.”

Kramer believes that a club community that hears all voices, despite one’s party or personal beliefs, is crucial. “Gunn is mainly a Democratic school, and because of that, there are many suppressed Republican voices,” Kramer said. “If it’s a Republican school in Texas, there is going to be a lot of Democratic suppressed voices. I think that is when we should try to come together and bridge the gap.”

A club with diverse political opinions is bound to have intense arguments, but Kramer believes there is beauty in the disputes.“I think it is healthy to have disagreements all the time,” he said. “My co-founder and I disagree on virtually everything, but we love to talk it out, and we love to debate about it. It is like a symphony playing music together [people] are all playing different parts, but in the end, it all comes together.”

Kramer emphasizes that the ideas of compromising and working through disagreements are essential human skills that should be practiced. “I have been a part of Politics 4.0, which is when one Marxist, one Leftist, one Libertarian and one Republican come together, and you try to find the middle ground on one topic,” Kramer said. “I think that is what the government should do because, ideally, that is how the government should work. Currently it works more like Republicans are going to do their bill, Democrats do their bill, and whoever has more power ends up passing the bill.”

Kramer is currently senior manager for Rishi Kumar, a congressional candidate in California’s 18th District. His experience working on a political campaign has helped him gain a better perspective on how candidates should reflect both personal views and future prospects. “I actually disagree with my candidate on quite a few things, but I believe he is better for Silicon Valley than the other candidate,” he said. “Helping someone’s campaign helped shape how I see politics work from an internal view, by seeing issues from my candidates viewpoint.”

While some may not want to involve themselves in politics, Kramer highlights that exercising suffrage rights is crucial because it affects each and every person. “You are affected by politics on a daily basis,” he said. “Public school itself is political. Some people want to privatize education. Your drinking water is affected by politics; your city government is affected by politics, the roads, even your home. You live in a capitalist based nation, and politics are bound to affect you no matter where you live.”

Kramer’s experience in politics has inspired him to run a campaign himself in years to come. “I’m sadly not born in America, so I can’t run for president, and I don’t have the money either,” he said. “But I do see myself at some point running for either a local position, or to be on county council. In the greater scope, maybe eventually running for Congress.”