I have had the same conversation several times in the last few months—always when talking to someone of my own age. The other gray-haired person expresses their concern/fear/terror/worry that Donald Trump will win the next election.
When I reassure them that will not happen, they demand, “But how do you know?”
“Because,” I explain, the young people will prevent it.”
They respond: “And how do you know that?”
Listening to Young People
The answer is simple: I pay attention to what Gen Z and other young people are thinking and doing. My friends not only don’t do that, they don’t know how to do it. So, they live in a restricted bubble of current events that never looks beyond friends, family, and the mainstream media.
When I explain, telling them how the young people are angry, scared, motivated, and driven to change American leadership, they say, “But how can we make sure they vote?”
Sigh. Okay. It’s not up to us to make them do anything. Consider these facts:
- They voted in increasing numbers during the midterms last year in Kansas and Michigan, which both had referendums about abortion.
- They voted big time in the Michigan judge’s election.
- College students stood in long lines on their campuses, patiently waiting their turn to vote.
- Half of young people voted in 2020, an 11-point Increase from 2016.
- The 2022 election had the second highest voter turnout among voters under 30 in the past three decades.
And those numbers are growing every day, every week, every month.
Not on the Six O’clock News
You didn’t see it on the six o’clock network news but young people mobbed the Tennessee state house for days after two mass shootings in their state. They protested, heckled, and challenged the Republican legislators over their inaction on gun safety. Why didn’t the mainstream media cover these protests? They were more concerned with a murder trial.
This week young people in Montana came out to protest after Republicans silenced a transgender State Rep for speaking out against an anti-transgender bill. The two state representatives dismissed from the Tennessee legislature for a “lack of decorum” are both under 30. (And both have been reinstated.)
Dissing the Boomers
Not only do we, the Boomers, not have to do anything but get out of their way, the young people don’t want old people telling them what to do.
We have failed to make a difference in many ways that affect their lives and their futures. They’re disgusted with us. While we live in the fading glow of Vietnam protests and Civil Rights marches, they consider our actions ancient history. They have more immediate concerns—like staying alive. And keeping the planet livable for themselves and their children.
Gen Z and others live in a reality of school shootings and active shooter drills. They are coming of age in a world where women’s rights are being curtailed — from the right to control our own bodies to the right to travel freely within the country.
Climate change is growing more intense and will threaten their lives long after we’re gone. We allowed that to happen and we still can’t fix it. They are motivated to solve the problem.
As a generation, we should get over ourselves. Our time has passed and I feel confident in handing the torch to the young people.
Listen to Victor Shi explain why Republicans are messing
with the wrong generation
The Republican Response
The Republican Party knows about this animosity. They know that young people vote against them—and they are afraid.
“According to a study of exit polling numbers from the 2020 election by the Roper Center, analyzed by John Della Volpe of the Harvard Kennedy School’s Institute of Politics, Gen Z voters have reliably favored Democrats in all recent presidential election years, and that advantage surged in 2020, when voters aged 18-29 voted for the Democratic Biden-Harris ticket by a whopping 60-36 percent – the second-best margin for the Democrats among younger voters over at least the last six election cycles. (Barack Obama did even better in 2008.)” –Eric Black in MinnPost
Instead of changing their positions and developing new policies, however, they are trying to cheat by curtailing the ability of young people to vote. This is like bailing the incoming tide because more young people become eligible to vote every day. Every restriction the Republicans pass—limiting or banning voting on university campuses, banning early voting and voting by mail, raising the voting age to 21, prohibiting student ID cards for voter identification, and preventing out-of-state students from voting in college towns.
All they are doing is further alienating the voters who are replacing the angry old white men who make up a large part of the Republican base. There will, however, be fewer old dudes at the polls in 2024 and a lot more young people lining up to vote. That imbalance will change in subsequent years.
An Interesting Election
This trend doesn’t mean we aging hippies can kick back and leave it all up to younger generations. Not that we would. We’ll get out to vote, too. Nor does it mean the Democratic Party can take the youth vote for granted. They have to earn it — all the time.
It’s going to be an interesting election.