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The First Gen-Z Member of Congress: What This Means for You

Op-ed

History was made on Tuesday night when Maxwell Frost was elected as the Representative of Florida's 10th congressional district, becoming the first Gen Z member of Congress. A proud advocate for gun control and abortion rights, among other pressing social justice issues, Frost's beliefs resonate with many young people. Why is Frost's election such a remarkable milestone for our country, and what does it entail for you?

Who is Maxwell Frost?

"My family's story begins in Cuba, with my grandmother Yeya," Frost writes on his website. Yeya and Frost's mother immigrated to the United States with virtually nothing, discovering how the country exploited its people.

"A victim of the system and enmeshed in trying circumstances, my biological mother was caught in a cycle of drugs, crime, and violence while pregnant. She didn’t have healthcare and wasn’t able to see a doctor even once. As the mother of seven, she made the difficult decision to put me up for adoption because she lacked the resources to care for and raise another child."

-Maxwell Frost

Frost's childhood experiences carried into the start of his career about a decade ago, with the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. "I got involved in this fight and in politics 10 years ago, after the mass shooting that happened in Sandy Hook," Frost says during an interview with PBS NewsHour. "I remember a night specifically because we were there eating before a show. And there was a silence that fell across the entire restaurant." Seeing the impact of this catastrophe, he decided this is what he wanted to do with his life: protect future generations from the undescribable pain that the Sandy Hook shooting had struck the country with.

Initially, Frost worked with organizations like the Newtown Action Alliance and the American Civil Liberties Union, organizing protests and working with prominent figures like Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders. During this time, he realized the lack of diversity in the ages of the people he was working with.

"We know that Gen Z and millennials make up about a third of the country. We don't represent anywhere near a third of government."

-Maxwell Frost

Frost officially announced his candidacy in Florida's 10th congressional district in August 2021. On November 8th, 2022, he secured the title as the youngest, first Gen-Z, and first Afro-Cuban member of Congress.

The Promises of Frost's Campaign

Frost's work over the last decade has prompted specific goals. These can be categorized into six main categories.

1) Improve preparation for pandemics

COVID-19 revealed how unprepared our country is for a pandemic. Frost strives to:

  • Help pass Biden's Pandemic Preparedness Plan

  • Support the advancement of vaccines, treatments, and diagnostics by funding the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA)

  • Develop vaccines that can reduce the severity of future virus outbreaks

  • Increase the sustainability of testing

  • Make virus-protective equipment reusable and more effective

2) Boost the accessibility and affordability of Medicare

A major contributor to the extremity of the COVID-19 pandemic has been lack of accessibility to healthcare, which Frost is targeting in several ways:

  • Increase comprehensitivity of healthcare

  • Abolish co-pays, deductibles, and premiums

  • Invest in the infrastructure of communities that struggle to access medical care

  • Expand healthcare coverage

  • Publicly fund substance abuse treatment

  • Permit federal drug price negotiation to prevent pharmaceutical companies from overcharging

3) Increase regulations for gun violence

Gen Z students are forced to go to school every day knowing there is a chance they might not make it home. Mass shootings are a more imminent threat than they ever have been, which Frost recognizes and targets. He will work to:

  • Outlaw assault weapons and large-capacity magazines

  • Demand background checks before gun purchases

  • Dismantle the National Rifle Association (NRA)

  • More strictly enforce laws regarding guns, and revoke licenses from those who break these laws

  • Increase money allocated towards gun violence public research

  • Assist community anti-violence programs

  • Create a national task force targeting gun violence in which people of color and youth comprise a quarter

4) Work towards environmental justice to fight climate change

The climate crisis is an urgent issue that policymakers are failing to give due consideration. Social disparities work together to make certain communities more vulnerable, making environmental justice a major focus of Frost's campaign:

  • Enact the Green New Deal and the Thrive Act to establish specific goals and steps

  • Inaugrate a civilian climate corps

    • Helps communities most impacted by climate change, provides well-paying jobs, and develops no-carbon infrastructure

  • Call out companies with large carbon footprints

  • Increase accessibility to clean air, food, and water

5) Fight the flaws in the justice system

Mass incarceration contributes to the skyrocketing poverty rates and violence cycles by stripping people of opportunities and resources. Frost aims to:

  • Abolish the death penalty

  • Demilitarize the police

  • Allow all American adults to vote, regardless of incarceration status

  • Provide adequate resources for those being let go from the prison system

  • Make recreational marijuana legal and remove current marijuana convictions

6) Protect and enhance housing and transit

Making housing affordable and public transit safe are key to achieving strong communities and protecting our environment. Right now, these are treated as privileges, not rights, especially with the current housing crisis in our country. Frost's goals are to:

  • Ensure tenants' rights are met and protected, such evictions being forbidden without a just cause and stable rent

  • Increase public and social housing funds

  • Protect accessibility to services like healthcare and childcare

  • Create stricter regulations regarding property speculation

  • Make taxes more efficient and just, such as by replacing payroll taxes with land value taxes

  • Invest in public transportation and road systems to make them safer and more efficient

Summary

Maxwell Frost was elected as the Representative of Florida's 10th congressional district on November 8th, becoming the first Gen-Z member of Congress. His promises include increasing preparation for pandemics, accessibility to Medicare, gun regulations, housing affordability, and creating a more just and eco-friendly society, including by investing in public transportation. Frost offers a unique perspective that represents millions of youth whose voices have been silenced in the past, bringing hope to the futures of Florida and our country.

Ria Jayanti
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Ria Jayanti is a high-school freshman in Seattle, Washington. As the author of two novels, she has always loved writing, especially about current events. In her free time, you can find her binge-reading thrillers, tutoring math and Spanish, volunteering at animal shelters, and running with friends.