A vast number of those in Generation Z (born 1995–2010) had expressed discontent, distrust, and disengagement with politics even before the pandemic. And, many believe leaders are corrupt, greedy, and unethical. But, their view of political leaders seems to assume a homogenous and monolithic leader regardless of position, geography, or level. With the pandemic response in the U.S., there have been varying opinions and approaches of leaders between the federal and local levels. Will Generation Z see a differentiation between local and national leaders? Will their perceptions of leadership change and/or be reinforced by those leaders’ responses? And, will this experience shape the extent they trust the government in the future?
Many in Generation Z acknowledge having a high trust for adults, especially those closest to them. However, they are also quick to distrust “fake news.” The push and pull of the political versus the health response with COVID-19 has been telling. Whose guidance should we trust? Should we wear masks? Will a particular drug combat symptoms? And, further, between the initial news that discussed young people having lower rates of infection than adults and the false assurances from spring break companies that there were no risks posed if traveling with them, it is easy to see how those in Generation Z might just not know what or who to believe. Perhaps in the future, these young people may be even more skeptical of political responses and seek out scientists and experts instead.
As a generation already concerned about the economy, healthcare, jobs, and security, COVID-19 has certainly given many of them a reason to amp up their support for policies around universal health care, living wages and universal basic income, and preparedness for future global crises through investment in research and scientific advancement. While this generation skews far to the left politically, will their policy beliefs create an impetus for them to show up and vote? And, is the silencing of the democratic primary process pulling Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic nominee, out of the spotlight? Will Bernie Sanders’ quiet end to his candidacy leave left-leaning young people without a clear transition to Biden? And, will their experience from this era shape their voting behavior for years to come?
There are also a number of those in Generation Z that situate themselves in the middle, politically. So, for those who were on the fence about their candidate of choice, how might their support or lack of support for the president’s response influence who they vote for?
But, with colleges closed, many voter registration drives have stopped, and campus polling locations have now disappeared. For those young people who do end up aligning with a candidate of choice, if they aren’t able to vote by mail, where will they vote?
Continue reading the remainder of articles in this series:
1. How COVID-19 Could Change a Generation Forever
2. The Political Effects of COVID-19 on Young People-you are reading this article
3. The Economic Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
4. The Psychological Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
5. The Sociological Effects of COVID-19 on Young People
6. The Social Effects of COVID-19 on Young People