The newest generation of voters will have a different perspective from any previous generation, and possibly one that can change the nation's direction.
This country has seen its share of social upheaval and diverse types of societal changes over the last several decades. The Civil Rights protests of the late 50s and early 60s, the Peace and Love movement of the late 60s and early 70s, and even the disco craze of the late 70s all helped to change the face of American views and ideals.
Shifting to the eighties, the Me Generation taught their children the value of money and success, if you wanted to get ahead in that era, but it also taught them to be a little less caring of their fellow man as you climbed the corporate ladder.
Through the years, causes such as preserving the environment contributed to an increased awareness of the fragility of our survival on this planet. And also, it seemed the political world of the early 21st century would be one of scandal after scandal, failed promises from elected leaders, and an even-more divided nation.
Chasms opened up between the haves and the have-nots, the left and the right, Christians and Muslims, and blacks and whites, causing many to be concerned about the direction of the nation in general, and wondering how much more we could take before becoming another of the world’s failed political experiments.
But out of all this chaos and confusion, there beams a little glimmer of hope, that being the youth of today’s generation. Some have labeled them as Generation Z, since everything must have a label, but I do not favor that connection. Z, being the last letter of the alphabet, sounds as if this is the last chance to get it right, and that makes me somewhat uncomfortable.
But regardless of whether you feel they must wear Generation Z tee shirts or not, this newest version of the American citizen has a lot going for them, much of which is because of the aforementioned chaos and confusion.
This generation has not known anything but a completely digital world, filled with computers and logic. They don’t remember being without instant wireless communication, cell phones, and instant contact with their parents, friends and practically anyone else in the whole world. Social media, unknown except for e-mail for their parents’ generation, is accepted as a necessity, almost as much as power, gas and water to their grandparents.
Social media has exposed them to the depths of depravity, as well as the graces of humanity. Despite their parents’ attempts to protect them, they are fully aware of harmful behavior, such as bullying, drug use, and racism, but are also keenly aware of the problems such behavior can cause. Actually seeing one of their peers suffer through these issues does a lot more to educate them to the realities than a class lecture or uncomfortable conversations with Mom and Dad.
Most of this new generation’s grandparents, who lived through and many participated in the times of blatant racial discrimination, have passed on and are no longer impressing their racist views on this new segment of the population. This group has grown up among other children of different races, religions, and preferences and never questioned why they didn’t look or act the same, they just accepted that was the way things were.
This generation has seen their parents and the parents of their friends impacted by losing a job they thought they would have forever, and seeing them struggle to make ends meet during a true recession. Quite possibly this has instilled a sense of value to them, and they tend to make more responsible decisions about their own future. Things like career choices, and which form of higher education will give the most benefit for their investment. They appreciate what their parents did to provide for them, and hope to do the same for their families, as well as give a little back to their aging parents down the road.
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But probably the biggest influence of all, they have seen America’s political system collapse into bedlam, with partisan politics from both sides of the aisle as well as the news media rendering the government almost completely ineffective. This generation will be a little more independent of political party affiliation, and more concerned with electing someone who will actually work to make things better.
This generation hasn’t voted yet. But they will soon, and soon after they will produce candidates that will see political service as a chance to make things better for all of us, instead of a career in Washington.
Sometimes you have to drive through the darkest storm to get to the rainbow on the other side. As long as I can see that little glimmer of hope, I know there is a chance for America.