With Democrats being increasingly criticized for failing to perform their job effectively, it’s time to question if young people are over the empty platitudes of the Democratic party?
Gen Z on The Democratic Party
On June 24, Roe v Wade was overturned by the Supreme Court, which subsequently led to an outbreak of protests outside of Capitol Hill and across the United States, inspiring outrage that permeated through Gen Z (people between 10-25), who were enraged at the lack of action by the Democratic party. On Twitter, people pointed out not only Bidens promise during his campaign to codify Roe V. Wade, but the calls by Democratic politicians to vote and donate to their campaigns despite calls for more urgent action, with protestors chanting, “Democrats we call your bluff, voting blue is not enough.”
“They are tired of us saying, ‘we’re fighting,’ but not delivering shit. What can you do tangibly to make a difference to do something about this?” Chuck Rocha, a Democratic strategist told Politico. “We are good at bringing a policy book to a fist fight, and I worry about young people not showing up to vote because of it.”
In an article by Vox in 2020, it was stated that Gen Z has been losing support from Millennials and Gen Z, with a 58% disapproval rate among people 18-34, with some stating that they believed that President Joe Biden was not progressive enough. Particularly, they cited Biden’s inaction on student loan debt, declaring a climate emergency and the handling of the COVID-19 pandemic. They (Vox) state that these issues are hindered by a divided government, not allowing him to enact these changes while the brunt of the responsibility is being placed on him by young voters. However, as Dakota Hall from the Alliance for Youth Action told Vox, the governmental delays are upsetting to young voters.
“They feel they are let down in this moment, due to (Biden’s) lack of executive action, and changes that young people care about, namely, the student debt crisis, and the failure to eliminate and eradicate some student loan debt,” Hall told Vox. “The continuation of the delays, while providing economic relief to some young Americans, it’s not enough. It’s not what they voted for.”
Vox also states that this frustration with not only Biden but with the Democratic parity as a whole may drive them to vote-switching (switching which political party they may typically vote for).
As of June voter intention numbers for Texas, Gen Z appears to still plan on voting for Democratic front runner Beto O’Rourke. But, the Republican party should not be entirely counted out for Gen Z.
Gen Z on the Republican Party
According to Jake Neirdart of the Young Conservatives of Texas,they have seen a rise in the Gen Z voter enthusiasm among their Gen Z voting demographic. Neirdart states that 2020 was a polarizing time for politics, specifically during lockdown. Once it was over, they saw a surge of fairly apolitical young people becoming Conservative.
“2020 was a polarizing time, especially the lockdowns. When people talk about COVID lockdowns, they talk about physical and emotional isolation. What people don’t talk about is political isolation. Before COVID, most conservative students were content to set aside political identity and be apolitical within their liberal campus ecosystem. After COVID, students who would otherwise be apolitical have joined YCT and been activated to the conservative cause,” Neirdart said.
Among Generation Z nationally as of 2020, people in this age range are currently voting more for Democrats than previous generations have. However, Karlyn Bowman, a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute told CNBC that the Republican party can not necessarily be counted out.
“I think there’s still a lot of opportunity for competition for the Republicans going forward. They have a lot of attractive candidates who may run in 2024. That being said, I still think the group will lean heavily Democratic,” Bowman said.
The possibility of vote switching for Gen Z does not seem very likely, at least in Texas. According to the University of Texas Texas Politics poll, about 42% of people 18-29, and 65+ intend to vote for Democrat Beto O’Rourke, while 52% of people 65+ plan to vote for Greg Abbott (also for people 45-64) as of June 2022. The Texas Democratic Party stated that while they have been receiving the occasional volunteer, none of them were Gen Z. Their recent Texas Democratic Convention for the most part had middle-aged and older candidates.
Can Gen Z Be Won Back on Democrats?
The political ideology of Gen Z is provenly, not a monolith. According to a Pew Research Center study in 2021, young adults are less likely to identify with a political party and are more likely instead, to align as Independents who are left or right leaning. In turn, there is more of a focus on political issues rather than party affiliation. As Vox states, putting more attention and urgency towards the issues Gen Z value like inflation in the economy, the effects of climate change, and debt, could manage to appeal to those who have drifted away from the party. What seems to be a top priority however, is how hard these issues are leaned on, how much action Democrats display and ultimately how it matches that of Gen Z.
“There’s a lot of talk about Roe strengthening the multigenerational coalition and, sure, there’s potential, but we need to see action taken now. This is an emergency that can’t wait until November,” Carmel Pryor, a senior communications director for Alliance for Youth Action told Politico regarding Roe V. Wade.
Recently, President Biden passed an executive order to protect reproductive rights in the case of emergency care on July 8, which Texas is currently suing Biden over,according to CNN.