As the election got closer, I would stare out at my students (undergraduates between the ages of 19–22) and I saw a coy look on their faces whenever politics was discussed in class.
And I teach Law and Society classes so politics is always discussed.
I even looked at some students and they had grins on their faces and soft smirks. It was a sign of a political tsunami I thought to myself. But I let the thought go and said, I would wait and see.
When I asked them if were they going to vote, almost all of them raised their hands. They never said how they felt about any candidate. They had a secret though.
I remember the coy looks as the Gen-Z wave hit America this past Tuesday on election day. I kind of missed it but I remember the looks.
An almost certain Republican triumph was turned into a political disaster. Mid-term elections are always a chance for the party out of power to seize the baton and the discourse. The Republicans didn’t gain much at all.
Even one of my daughters, who is Gen-Z, and 20 years old, and voted, texted me and said —
She was saying that, but for the Gen-Z vote for Democrats and its dominance over the GOP Gen-Z vote, the Democrats do get crushed.
She is correct by the way. According to VOX, here’s a statistical breakdown:
But here’s another caveat to add. People scoffed at President Biden when he did his student loan forgiveness program late in the election campaign. It turns out it was the right thing to do and when to do it.
People said he was being political. Yes, he was. Joe Biden has been at this game longer than everyone in the game. He is 79 years old but he is still an old pro at the game. He has rarely played the wrong card in these two years.
Biden was also quick to remind potential voters that the Republicans sued to stop the implementation of the program (they really did and they are still trying to stop it). If you owe a lot of college debt and one party is trying to help you and the other is standing with banks, who are you going to vote for? (Don’t answer that).
Is this a political trend? Is this a permanent shift?
It is hard to say actually. But, I think this generation is more engaged than my generation and they are even more independent politically.
The world has changed. Technology has made the world much different than the post-war American world I inherited from my parents. America is in decline but that does not mean things have to go to hell, they are thinking.
Participation and keeping young voters engaged is the key. Now that reproductive rights have been declared illegal basically and now that gun control laws remain taboo in America, young people are paying attention.
They plan to act. David Hogg, the student activist born of the Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, was one of the main persons I followed on Twitter as the election got closer. I always found his comments to be refreshing.
Gen-Z knows it is in the crosshairs of mistakes by their parent’s generation. Loose gun laws, pro-corporate policies with few restrictions, outsourcing of jobs, and a collapse of any values or ethics. They care about the future.
They are a diverse generation. They don’t have all the racial and sexual hangups that previous generations had (though that is still problematic). They are very outspoken. They are passionate.
. . .
Gen-Z made their first statement in America this past week and it was a loud one. In 2024, I expect it to be louder.
I live with Gen-Zers. They are my children. I love my Gen-Zers. They have their eyes open and they actually know the kind of world they want. The older people who call themselves politicians better listen.
It is going to be 20 years before their minds might shift to less idealistic matters. Right now, they are fighting for the kind of world and country they want.
I am proud to stand before them and learn each day that the future is bright and the future is now. This is because it’s a Gen-Z world now.
This post was previously published on Bumpyjonas.
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