The 18-29 year olds, the folks I mostly teach, GEN Z, born 1990- to early 2010’s literally shocked the pollster reporting his findings on a recent segment of MORNING JOE.
Their overall optimism and approval of an old geezer like Biden-as much as they liked the perennially young Bernie Sanders (the Ben Franklin of the millenium?- without the scientific bent and womanizing of course) is rather striking. And as the image above shows they tend to be hooked in to “what’s happening” every bit as much as some of us Boomers were in the 60’s. We had Civil Rights and ‘Nam protests, they got BLM, gun control, climate change, and LGBTQ issues. And they are wired-in to a wealth of news and science info, in real time with laptops, tablets, and smartphones, like no generation before them. Social media can contain a lot of bullshit (I dropped my Facebook account 2 years ago in protest of Zuckerberg’s and Sanberg’s blatant pandering of misinformation on the election, COVID, etc., etc.) but there is also a wealth of good science, up to date news at their fingertips as well. The bad shit as usual gets all the press. There is way more good info than bad and at ligthspeed-plus you can always wiki it, or google it and get an answer to “fake news” stat.
Even tho I subscribe to Ari Melber’s “Gerontocracy” claim having written on the comparatively young ages of the Founding Fathers when they did their thing in 1776-1789 (Declaration and Constitution) at the ages of 20’s-40’s most of them , I also understand the wisdom the ages can bring-to some it seems, which can overcome in a Sanders, Franklin, Biden, and others, the tendency to mind-numbing, conservative obstructionism-see modern-day Republican leaders-Mitch McConnell for one, as a classic example of obstinate, “and damn proud of it” old age stagnation.
So Biden in his first 100 days, has got the kids thinking ahead and optimistic and approving…and their positive outlook may be due to recent events and their unique generational experience as well.
For the immediate causes:
4 big wins just in the last few month come to mind,
1. Trump lost and Rethuglican obstruction tho not gone, has been diminished in power. Biden won, and Dems got the Senate-HUGE!
2. COVID is waning, Vaccinations are rocking…
3. The Stimulus bill, talk of wasting college debt..
4. The Chauvin conviction- all because of a teen with an I-phone (or the sonofabitch could have gotten away with it). A GEN Z’er doing their thing, recording everything – did him in.
The 18-29 year-olds might see enuf success already: that if you come out and vote, if you protest, stuff can get done. Minds can change.
Another source of optimism-the ugly asshole constant negative shit of Trump is over, gone from daily discourse. Those ridiculous incessant insulting tweets, confrontation at every step for 4 years, 10,000’s of lies and idiot ideas-gone
And in place of it, a normal person, who seems serious about getting everything done that can get done, no insults, no throwing rivals and loyalists under the bus-just business as usual as it should be. That refreshing change has got to have an underlying effect as well.
And for a Generation that is immersed in diversity, there’s a Black female as VP, who could well become the 1st female Prez in 2024.
If you look around, HUGE changes from all last year’s COVID capers press conferences and the constant griping, tweet storm of passive-aggressive childishness. Remember this is a generation raised on anti-bullying programs in school, when in my day-bullies were just part of growing-up. They have been trained to see the stupidity and boorishness of bad behavior towards others. And that is gone from the White House too.
The average age of Senators is 67, Congress- 59. The median age of US citizens is 38 (it was close to 29 in 1960). The Founding Fathers ages would match our citizenry today rather neatly. And we don’t need to get rid of all old white geezers, just replace most of them with younger, more diverse, males and females from all walks of life.
The 2018 election saw a 79% jump in voting among 18-29 year olds, the largest of any segment. Women hit their highest numbers in both the House (127) and Senate (24). Again more progress in the right direction that GEN Z has seen in their short lifetimes already.
So how bout heading for real parity- 200+ females in the House and 50 Senators and average ages of 40 and 50 respectively-why not?
Vote ’em in and it can happen. And the GEN Z group is just the cohort to make it happen. Then we could really see progress and fresh ideas mixed with a good portion of old-age wisdom, instead of the stifling good ole boys network that think they are where its at.
Biden has done a lot in but 100 days, with over 200 million vaccinated, the Stimulus bill passed, the Infrastructure bill conversation already in high gear, FINALLY removing troops from Afghanistan, rejoining the Paris climate accords (big with GEN Z), reversing the military transgender ban, restoring DACA— and executive orders on racial equality and gender discrimination.
This is the kind of world Gen Z’ers want to live in. Its not completely fixed by any means, but the 4 “wins” I described above and Biden’s steady grinding forward on issue after issue (and a full cabinet of wholly qualified people-dedicated public servants whose progressive actions and effects will be evident in the coming months) surely should give even the most die-hard pessimist proof that things can change-for the better. And the kids are digging it.
What this generation (and all of us) could really use is a challenge. An all-encompassing, throw down the gauntlet sort of task up to the exponentially expanding technology of the day. After all GEN Z’ers are defined as “digital natives”, having been raised on smart phones and tablets and Facebook and Youtube (and Tik-Tok, and…).
So I’m hoping the influence of Biden and the first openly gay (and torridly bright and politically astute) Cabinet Member, Pete Buttegieg (in his 30’s himself) and others will turn the Green Energy challenge in to the next moon-shot.
And not just carbon reduction, or replacement, but carbon CAPTURE as well.
The challenge is no more out-to-lunch than John F. Kennedy’s 1962 “We choose to go the moon” dare was, when we couldn’t get a rocket off the pad without it blowing up. Putting an astronaut in a rocket and actually getting him into orbit and back was preposterous enough at the time, much less landing on and returning safely from the moon. But we did it, in 7 years and with 6 months to spare before the decade was out. Insanity, fantasy, pure science fiction, foolhardy, beyond bold, maybe even utterly stupid—but it happened!
Why not go after Climate Change just as boldly?
It is said there’s so much carbon out there, that significant temperature rise is inevitable from it that we cannot reverse. Really?
Q: Why can’t we? A:Lack of knowledge-at the present moment…
We had no knowledge of the very basics of manned space flight when JFK put out the moon challenge, we had to figure it out and develop new tech as we went along, not knowing at the beginning even how to get to the moon and back…and we did it all on less computer power than we all carry around in our pockets every day.
The technological advances that have not been discovered yet may provide the means to recapture carbon in enough quantity worldwide. It could happen. The moon landing proposal was no less impossible seeming in ’62: In fact, I suggest it was even moreso.
And this generation besides being “digital” since birth, has seen nothing but progress on so many fronts, not just social, but in science and tech. The Higgs boson discovered and gravitational waves being detected are part of their normal… when they were mere theoretical conjectures for all of the 20th century. So why not go after a seemingly unreachable goal? Put this generation to the challenge to reverse climate change in their lifetime-get on it!
And now they see HUGE progress since the November election. They SHOULD be optimistic. Kennedy was optimistic to the point of delusion (one could easily make the case for that) and he was in his 30’s at the time. Too young to know better, bold enough to stick his neck out. Unprecedented, hard to imagine or make happen stuff does happen all the time!
There’s a Black female VP in the US today-how incredible is that? A cop finally got convicted for killing a black man in blatant cold blood, and Trump became a one-term President. What’s not to like and be excited for the future about?…And just what else we can do? The Gen Z’ers are terribly concerned about what kind of world awaits them with climate change grinding on. Let’s give them their shot at it, a real moonshot. Reverse global warming in their lifetime. Something they can tell their grandkids about…and like the ’69 moon landing, utterly improbable…and like landing on the moon, the whole world can say with pride-it WAS impossible, but WE did it anyway.
The Kids are All right.