11 Aug Why Democrats Should Be Losing Sleep Over Generation Z
Originally posted on Forbes.
There has been much talk about the Millennial generation being entitled, lazy, and narcissistic. And while Millennials like myself were busy fending off the harsh criticisms and stereotypes constantly flung at our generation, a whole new demographic was slowly emerging from the shadows. Hello, Generation Z! The fiscally responsible, tattoo hating, Republican leaning group, touted by conservatives as their best hope for the future, and as the antithesis of Millennials.
While Millennials still remember cassette players and dial-up Internet, Generation Z grew up hounded by perpetual terrorist threats and school shootings reflecting on them from their Macbook and iPad screens.
They grew up watching Millennials entering the work force with thousands of dollars in school debt, and it seems that they are intent on not making the same mistakes as us.
According to research, Gen Z is more individualistic, more conservative both socially and fiscally, and they’re already making waves of impact on our political system. Gen Z, those born in 1995 or later, is possibly the most conservative generation since World War II, and it is worrying that their impact has been completely overlooked during this election. While our fears might be preemptive, we should not make the mistake of disregarding the intriguing yet also possibly worrying world views of Generation Z.
Oftentimes Millennials have been criticized for being notoriously liberal, but it looks like the generation right behind us has completely rebelled. A U.K. Study at The Gild did a survey of almost 2,000 adults and found that on issues like gay marriage, marijuana legalization, transgender rights, and even tattoos, 59% of Gen Z respondents described their views as ‘conservative’ and ‘moderate’.
This is a radical change from 83% Millennials and 85% of Gen X who state that their views are ‘quite’ or ‘very liberal’ on those same issues. What’s worrying is that given their more conservative leanings, Gen Z was not taken into account during this election, even though for many of them it was their first. Younger generations are famous for being liberal, therefore we mistakenly assumed that Gen Z would vote Democratic. But studies show that Gen Z’s views closely resemble those of Libertarian or Moderate Republicans, and that they related with Donald Trump on issues like national security and job creation.
We can speculate on the reasons why Gen Z differs so much from the previous generations. One facet would be that from the crib they were plunged into the era on the Internet, and grew up in a media obsessed culture that exposed them to terrorism, school shootings, and the staggering budget crisis on a daily basis. They’ve never had to ask anyone for information, directions, or a recipe.
Being able to research their own opinions on an iPad from the convenience of their couch, Gen Z has turned into a very individualistic generation that relies only on themselves and the Internet to form an opinion. One could argue that this mechanical way of living and not having to rely on others for help could have desensitized Gen Z from other people’s struggles, which would help explain their more conservative views on social issues.
One thing us Millenials can be jealous of in regards to Generation Z: they avoid student loans like fire! Generation Z is not only more socially conservative, they are also more fiscally conservative. A new national study by The Center for Generational Kinetics discovered that Gen Z students plan to “work during college, keep clear of any personal debt, and start saving for retirement.”
Shockingly 12% have already already saving for retirement, and a huge 21% of Gen Z had a savings account before the age of ten. Currently 77% of Gen Z earn their own spending money by doing“freelance work, a part time job, or earned allowance.” Jason Dorsey, President of the Center for Generational Kinetics and Gen Z and Millennial expert said of Gen Z, “Their practical and fiscally conservative behavior is making them part of businesses and our economy despite their young age.”
The fact that Gen Z is already having a major impact on our economy and politics, being just out of high school, suggests that we must take them seriously and look closely at the reasons that drive them to be more conservative.
Of course we want the next generation to be better than us. Like older siblings, we care for them and certainly appreciate that they have learned from some of our mistakes, especially in the financial realm. But it is important to pay close attention to Gen Z’s more radical political outlooks. The Republican party usually engages people as they get older, but with Gen Z’s conservative leanings the Republicans have great hope of capturing yet another election. If we don’t want a major upset in 2020 we have to find ways to reach out to the next generation and work together.
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