Young people are more motivated than ever to vote

I’m part of a generation – Generation Z – that has a vague memory of 9/11, if at all. We weren’t even teenagers during the recession of 2008. And since then our lives have been slammed in a seemingly endless series of tribulations.

We grew up living in constant fear of gun violence. We worry about the state of our planet due to late action on climate change. We are still struggling due to the impact COVID-19 has had on social interactions and education.

Yet we were also a generation deeply hungry for something different. Something that deviates from the traditional systems that contributed to the problems we grew up facing. Something that shows us that we matter in this political system. And even though we are often ignored, we have never been afraid to use our voices to bring about change.

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A different election: But while our drive to imagine a better reality can usually happen using social media or protesting in the streets – and still does – I now see something else. Young people are more politically energetic than I have ever seen. Young people register to vote, and they say they will vote in November.

Given historic turnout rates among young people, Gen Z’s increased willingness to vote may cause skepticism. Indeed, while youth participation improved in 2018 and then in 2020, our rates did not match those of older generations.

However, there are two strong indications that the 2022 midterm elections will be different. First, more of my peers are realizing how much the Republican Party has made and only makes the problems in our lives worse. And two, Democrats and President Joe Biden are showing young people that we are heard, seen and valued — both through their recent legislative victories and the way they engage with young people.

Now more than ever, the contrast between how the Republican and Democratic parties serve young people couldn’t be starker. Over the past year, Republicans have seemed to target and irritate one demographic in particular: young people.

For example, Republicans in Florida, Ohio, and Louisiana have introduced bills that would significantly limit or ban LGBTQ expression in classrooms. Republicans are also restricting other rights that young people have grown up with, the main one being abortion. With the Supreme Court’s decision to overturn Roe v. Wade and more than 20 states further restricting the ability to access safe and legal abortions, it becomes clearer to my peers that Republicans do not represent our interests.

Does not represent us: Along the same lines, Republicans continue to show more of their true color to young people with every vote they take in Congress. On almost every issue that Gen Z cares about, Republicans voted against them. A majority of Republicans voted against reforming national gun laws. Every Republican has voted against the biggest investment in fighting climate change. And all Republicans refuse to protect reproductive rights by voting against codifying Roe v. Wade in the law.

On the other hand, the Democratic Party is finally showing that it is addressing the issues that matter most to young people and including us in the conversation. Take three actions that Democrats and President Biden have taken recently: passing landmark climate change legislation, reforming gun laws, and waiving student loans. These are all issues young people have fought for their entire lives — and seeing Democrats act on them shows us that our voices can and do make a difference.

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Democrats are also doing more to reach my peers. Shortly before Biden announced his decision to cancel student loans, the White House hosted a new virtual conference with young influencers on TikTok and other social media platforms. Not only is this the first time the White House has engaged in such an outreach strategy, but it signals that Democrats and Biden know that the best way to sell their message to young people is to invest in messengers who look like and appear regularly on our social media feed.

The increasingly clear differences between the two parties are not only causing a change of opinion among young people. They are also mobilizing and motivating young people across the country to vote in November. It’s no secret that President Biden’s approval ratings among young people haven’t been strong since he took office. A poll released earlier this year found youth support for Biden dropped nearly 20 points between spring 2021 and spring 2022.

Approval on the rise But the latest figures after the passage of the Cut Inflation Act and student loan forgiveness measures show a 10% increase in approval rates among those under 30. Today, 60% of young people approve of President Biden’s performance. These include the highest approval rating among young people at any time during his presidency, a strong reflection that Democrats are resonating with young people.

Beyond public opinion, young people are taking proactive steps to ensure they vote in November. Especially following the Supreme Court’s overturning of Roe v. Wade, more and more young people are registering to vote. Take a state like Texas: nearly 30% of all newly registered voters are people under the age of 25. That number has been steadily rising since Dobbs’ decision and will likely continue to rise given sustained attacks on abortion rights by Republicans and Democrats. hit.

We are a generation that seeks change. With the current state of American politics, it looks like my peers and I will be heading to the polls in November in record numbers. And nothing seems to prevent us from doing so.

— Victor Shi, a junior at the University of California, Los Angeles, co-hosts the “iGen Politics” podcast.

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