By Josh Miller
The leading edge of Gen Z is 23 years old, meaning that this year is only the second time where any Gen Zs will be eligible to vote. For many Zs, it will be their first time. Political institutions, as well as organizations in the private and non-profit sector, must be able to look towards the future and be agile in adapting to the 21st century in order to engage Gen Z.
This year’s midterms are an interesting microcosm of today’s American Culture, and I can’t help wondering if generational influence plays into the political hype. While it is still too early to develop solid conclusions about how Gen Z leans politically, early indicators are not showing Gen Z to align with one of the two major political parties. If anything, we may end up looking the most like the Libertarian third party, fighting for social liberalism and financial conservatism.
According to a Forbes article titled Why Democrats Should Be Losing Sleep Over Generation Z, “Gen Z is more individualistic, more conservative both socially and fiscally, and they’re already making waves of impact on our political system. Gen Z, those born in 1995 or later, is possibly the most conservative generation since World War II, and it is worrying that their impact has been completely overlooked during this election. While our fears might be preemptive, we should not make the mistake of disregarding the intriguing yet also possibly worrying world views of Generation Z.”
I completely agree with that sentiment and believe that my generation’s desire for financial individualism and self-reliance, which has come as a result of growing up during economic instability and disruption, will cause many of us to align with politicians who support tax cuts and higher take-home pay once we enter the workforce.
However, it is no doubt that Generation Z has grown up in an extremely open and connected society. The vast majority of us, even those who live in rural communities and are more traditionally conservative, have only known a world where gay marriage is the norm, an African-American can become president, and where gun violence is a major issue.
I’m hopeful that my Gen Z peers will take the time to do their research and not just vote along party lines. But don’t be surprised if Gen Z falls into the trap of the two-party system, due to our extremely competitive nature and desire to say, “I’m a Democrat” or “I’m a Republican.” And if that happens, our conflicting desires for fiscal conservatism and social liberalism will force Gen Zs to evaluate which of those two underlying topics is more important to them as we look to identify with a party, because we understand that voting for an independent candidate, aside from a few exceptions, is essentially throwing away a vote.
Time will tell where Gen Z lands politically, but I am hopeful Gen Z will show a high voter turnout in these midterm elections and beyond, and I am grateful my generation is showing political activism, interest, and foresight.
Want to learn more about Gen Z?
Check out these great resources!
- Teaching Gen Z: Everything we wish schools knew about our generation and education
- Ready or Not – Here Comes Z
- Gen Z: The first generation of the 21st Century has arrived!