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Can Generation Z Rescue Democracy?

Op-ed

Two months after the midterm elections, the progressive movement's forceful efforts to impact the government have paid off. The GOP predicted that there would be a "red wave” but that, fortunately, was not the case. Midterm election night was a major win for the Democratic Party. Many voters across the country voted for politicians who advocated for reproductive rights, interracial marriage, gay marriage and more, and this result is majorly due in part to one large group of people--Generation Z. Generation Z are people born from 1997 to 2012. Generation Z saw a huge voter turnout this electoral period in comparison to years past. But what caused this turnout, and most of all, what does this mean for us?

The Results Are In...

The results of the 2022 midterm election season broke so much ground, and politics has never been more diverse. From Wes Moore being Maryland's first black governor, Maura Heely being Massachusetts' first female and openly gay governor, to Maxwell Frost, a former March for Our Lives protester being Gen Z's first member of Congress, the outcome of this electoral period is giving many politically focused young Americans hope for the 2024 Presidential Election. This past election season was the first time a substantial percentage of Generation Z was eligible to vote. According to an article by the Washington Post, about 1 in 8 voters were under the age of 30, and over half supported Democratic candidates. Here are some of the noteworthy results from the election:

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A post shared by Maxwell Alejandro Frost (@maxwellfrostfl)

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A post shared by Summer Lee (@summerleeforpa)

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A post shared by Rep. Ocasio-Cortez (@repaoc)

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A post shared by Wes Moore for Governor (@iamwesmoore)

All of these candidates won because of their transparency, honesty, and the causes they stand for. For instance, Maxwell Frost, Gen Z’s first member of Congress, is an avid gun control advocate and was an organizer of the March for Our Lives movement, an effort that spawned after the events of the Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting, in Parkland, Florida in February 2018. Summer Lee, the first black woman to represent Pennsylvania in Congress, won for her positions on justice reform, Medicare, and gun violence. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is the youngest woman to ever serve in Congress, and took office when she was just 29 in 2018.

She recently got re-elected to serve New York's 14th Congressional district during midterms. Wes Moore is an army veteran and Maryland's first black governor. Regardless of what you believe politically, this election season was incredibly groundbreaking. But let's take it back to the 20th century to provide some context on what events from the past led to the events of the present, and possibly the future.

Youth & Social Issues: A Blast to the Past

The younger generation in this country have a long history of fighting for equality. From the Women’s Suffrage in the 1920’s, to the Civil Rights movement in the 1960’s, to more recent protest efforts such as Black Lives Matter and Stop Asian Hate, young people have never stopped fighting for change.

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A post shared by Black Lives Matter (@blklivesmatter)

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A post shared by Stop AAPI Hate (@stopaapihate)

In instances where Congress is stifling progress, the youth of this country across numerous generations have yelled in the streets. While this all sounds great, you may be wondering what correlation this has to the uptick in young voters in recent years. Well, let's look at the facts. According to an article written by Pew Research Center, Generation Z is one of the most ethnically diverse generations in recent decades.

One out of 4 Gen Zers are Hispanic, 14% are black, & 6% are Asian. On top of this, Generation Z is on track to be the most well educated generation yet. This is due to having more resources and advanced technology than our predecessors. More resources means more knowledge, and more awareness about the issues going on in the world, which is also why Generation Z is also one of the more liberal generations as well, sharing the same progressive views and political opinions as Millennials. There has also been a gap in Republican/conservative members between generations, with political opinions of yesteryear being viewed as outdated by a vast majority of Generation Z. In a survey done by Gallup in August of 2022, the data showed that only 17% of Generation Z identified as Republican.

Taking all of this into account, it only makes sense that the midterm election results would reflect a changing landscape within the youth living in the United States. But will the past mirror the future? Here's what to know about the future of democracy, and Gen Z's role in it.

Can Generation Z Rescue Democracy?

Generation Z is on track to reshape the current landscape of politics in the United States. With the current path Generation Z is taking, they are a force leading social change in the United States. From the data shown, Gen Z has a promising future as change makers, seeing that we already have a member of Congress. On November 8, Maxwell Frost (D-FL) was elected to Congress. Being born in 1997, he is 25, making him Gen-Z's first member of Congress. He supports gun control, LGBT rights, and reproductive rights, which align well with the progressive agenda Gen Z is following. Knowing all of this, does it answer the question — can Gen Z rescue democracy? I think that we're definitely on track to do so. With the road we’ve taken, politics is on a path to reinvention, and Gen Z is marking it.

We have built a generation of trailblazers and loudmouthed speakers who are done letting human rights take a backseat, and that is reflected in this electoral season. An entire generation--2 billion of us are marking a trail for substantial global change for the succeeding generations to come. We are walking now so that Generation Alpha (born between 2010-present) won't face the same issues that we are facing right now. We are walking so that they and every generation afterwards can run.

Alexis Aryeequaye
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Alexis Aryeequaye is a 15-year-old freshman in high school, and aspires to become a journalist. She enjoys anything having to do with current events, social justice, music, politics, or writing. Alexis loves to write poetry in her spare time. She is a published poet and is a recipient of the 2022 NCTE Promising Young Writers Award.