Op-Ed: Gen Z’s pragmatic politics could be a key to ending polarization and dysfunction in the U.S.
As a generation emerges from Generation X to its younger self, we’re seeing a generation redefine civic engagement in the way they care about issues and seek to shape the world around them. Gen Z is the newest and most diverse generation of voters. They come from families of immigrants, and as a result are often less connected to their communities of origin. They’re not especially socialized into traditional American political norms, the way Generation X and Millennial voters were, but they are increasingly comfortable with their political views and, by almost every metric, consider politics as a subject more than an end unto itself. In a recent survey conducted by Politico and the Public Religion Research Institute, they said they want politicians to do the job they think is right, not just the job the candidate will do. In the same poll, they are not interested in elective officeholders’ personal characteristics.
This new generation of citizens is also not interested in government that exists just to serve their needs. They have political identities outside of government and a strong desire to shape their society. They’re not interested in working in the business of governing, but in the business of creating a better future for everyone. As the new generation continues to shape the country’s politics, political observers are trying to get to know them better. In a piece for NPR’s Morning Edition, political scientist Alex Seitz-Wald looks at the ways that Gen Z are shaping the political conversation in the United States.
Gen Z’s role in the electorate and their influence on the political conversation in the United States
In the NPR piece, Seitz-Wald talks about how Gen Z’s social media use and digital participation have changed the political conversation in the United States. The NPR analysis, based on a survey of 1,500 young voters between the ages of 18 and 29, finds that Gen Z are more digitally engaged than their predecessors and that they are more likely to have strong opinions about issues and politics.
Seitz-Wald is correct that Gen Z are using social media to connect and interact with each other and a broad audience. They are also changing the political conversation. The NPR report notes that “while Gen Z were more likely to say they were not interested in politicians’ personal characteristics, the young