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The Rise of Gen Z in Politics | WDIY Local News

Markus Spiske
/
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Gen Z is often criticized for the time they spend on their phones. Sometimes they’re said to be challenging to work with.

But in recent years, the young generation has proven they’re not challenging to work with – they just refuse to back down on their beliefs, and they won’t be ignored. Their efforts in shifting politics, creating social change, and engaging in activism have become louder and stronger.

With the flurry of political and social issues in today’s world, a majority of young people view politics as an important factor of their personal identity, according to a survey by Tufts Tisch College.

Abby Regensburger, a junior at Kutztown University of Pennsylvania, is one of the many students getting involved in politics. With two majors and five minors, she still has time to run the Women in Politics club on campus.

“The mission of Women in Politics is to cultivate the next generation of female leaders, advocate for gender and LGBTQ+ equality, and drive positive change on campus and in our community. And we do this by hosting events on campus; informational events where we watch videos and talk about it, have politicians come to our meetings and give students on campus the opportunity to ask questions, and also just opportunities for women to get together and voice their opinions on what’s going on in the world.”

As Abby and so many other students are saying, there are a lot of changes that need to be made.

55% of those aged 18-29 surveyed by Tufts believe the country is going in the wrong direction. 76% say young people have the power to change that.

And we’ve seen young people doing that. Perhaps the first moment a group of young people gained total national attention was after the Parkland High School shooting in Florida in 2018. The lack of a serious response by the government led to one of the biggest youth-led movements in history, encouraging young people everywhere to stand up for what they believed in, and to push back against what they believed was wrong.

With the 2024 Presidential election approaching, students like Abby are hard at work.

"It’s very obvious looking at today’s country and the world that not many women are involved in politics. It took us this long just to get a Vice President who’s a woman. So we just use this as a way to empower others and help them realize the importance of voting.”

These efforts are important, she says, because a lot of people often forget about students. But by 2028, Millennials and Gen Z will be a majority of the voting population. They’ll make up more than 60% by 2036. Even now, they’re still an unavoidable voting block. And if you want their votes, you’ll have to take their concerns seriously.

"A ban on assault rifles, making sure women always have reproductive rights no matter what state they’re in, the LGBTQ+ community always has rights, and that our climate is protected so that life on earth can continue.”

I asked Abby if she’s losing faith at all, or if she feels like young people are being left behind in politics. She said no. In fact, she sounded more motivated than anything.

“I don’t think I’ve necessarily lost faith, I just see it as there’s a lot of work that needs to be done. I know that sometimes it can be a little scary thinking, ‘Oh, there’s nothing that can be done, my vote doesn’t matter.’ That’s not true, voting and working and just being a political activist is the way to create the world you wanna be in. It just takes a lot of hard work, campaigning, voting."

So the work of Kutztown University’s Women in Politics will continue with voter registration drives and informational events. Come November, the work of Abby and countless other students everywhere is sure to be visible.

James is the News and Public Affairs Director for WDIY. He reports on stories in the Lehigh Valley and across the state which impact the region, along with managing WDIY's volunteers who help create the station's diverse line-up of public affairs programs.
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