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Editorial: Have you voted yet?


Our generation is finally reaching political maturity.

With much of Gen Z old enough to vote and some of its oldest members starting to run for office, the 2022 Midterms will serve as one of the first tests of our generation’s political influence.

Maxwell Frost of Florida and Karoline Leavitt of New Hampshire are two of the first Gen Z politicians to run for Congress.

Both candidates are only 25 years old, the minimum age to run for the House of Representatives. The average age of a House member today is 58.

Frost, a Democrat, is running in a deeply blue district that was held by Rep. Val Demmings before she vacated her seat to run against Marco Rubio in the Senate. Frost is running on a platform of racial justice, Medicare-For-All and increased gun control measures. 

Leavitt, a Republican, is running against an incumbent Democrat in a competitive district in New Hampshire. She is running on a platform of cutting taxes and regulations, protecting gun rights and securing our borders.

Despite being ideological opposites, the candidates are representative of two key traits of Gen Z: we are not a monolith, and we will not wait to get involved in the political process. 

As of 2020, our generation made up 10% of eligible voters in the United States. With two more years for young Americans to turn 18 and register to vote, that number has only increased for the midterms.

However, despite finally making up a significant portion of the electorate and having our peers begin to fill out the array of candidates, the jury is still out on whether young voters will participate in the midterm elections. 

An NPR-Marist poll found that younger generations are by far the least likely to vote this Tuesday, raising questions about how much influence we will actually have.

There are many reasons why young Americans may not vote, but one stands out as particularly widespread.

The most common reason why young people may not vote is a sense of political nihilism. There is a belief that citizens’ individual votes will not change the outcome of the election, so whether they vote or not does not make a difference.

This viewpoint is understandable, but it is flawed for more than one reason. 

First, political nihilism is scarily contagious. Once one person expresses doubts about the effect they can have on the political system, they bring about a cloud of discouragement that looms over any further discussion.

The second and more pressing concern with this view is that it fundamentally misunderstands and undercuts the idea of a democracy. 

The idea that a single vote is useless because it does not have the individual power to influence an election among millions of votes betrays any notion of collective action or generational unity that drives political participation.

Yes, the political cards are stacked against us, and yes, our vote may become lost in a sea of other votes. That is not a reason to give up entirely.

The fact that no vote has any individual influence means that every vote has influence within a group of similar voters.

Have pride in being a part of the first wave of Gen Z voters. Have pride in voting for an incumbent who will almost certainly win or for a third-party candidate who may only carry 5% of the vote. 

Whether you are a red voter in a blue state, a blue voter in a red state or anywhere in between, have pride in the fact that you are making our democracy real through your participation. 

Moreover, political activism can be just as contagious as political nihilism. Whether you’re voting here in Pennsylvania or in your home state, you have the power to create a ripple effect that can lead to higher turnout throughout Lehigh.

We may not change the world overnight through our actions. But a vote this Tuesday helps dictate the influence our generation will have and the direction in which our country will go. 

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