The Disenchanted Generation Z

The day after Trump won the presidency, my Filipino best friend was sexually assaulted on her college campus. Yelling “Trump’s America!” her white male attacker grabbed her vagina and ran off, fearing no consequences.

I was horrified when she told me this over the phone, but not surprised.

The UK’s Guardian newspaper recently investigated the mindset of Generation Z and found they were anxious about, well, everything. More specifically, reporters found that only 1 in 10 of this generation trust the government to do the right thing. I wish I could debunk their findings, but every time I turn on the news and see our president, I immediately want to curl up into a ball.

Because I find most of my news online, I see school shootings, journalists murdered and our president lying all within seconds of it happening. As soon as another disappointing bill or executive order is signed into law, it’s a Twitter moment waiting for Gen Z to roll their eyes at.

Adults tend to think we’re oblivious to events in government, but we’re always watching the news, not surprised when the next scandal hits. According to the Washington Post, Trump has made 12,019 false or misleading claims since taking office — how can I trust the government when its leader is saying whatever he wants and declaring emergencies to get his way?

The government has given Gen Z more reasons to be skeptical than trusting, especially with the Cohen trial. How are we to feel when we see that our president — who is supposed to represent America — is racist? I witness my non-white friends struggling with systematic and blatant racism, while my parents are praising Trump for his outspokenness.

He has failed to denounce white supremacists and their actions, giving them the confidence to continue targeting minorities. Gen Z constantly feels unsafe in our own environment — 11-year-olds are committing suicide or being murdered for being gay, women are told it’s their responsibility not to get raped and people are being shot in places of worship and schools. We watch these events unfold on our phones and feel stuck.

Those of us who are old enough to vote feel disillusioned with the voting process, especially after the 2016 election. Why even vote when the majority of voters are people over 65 and the Electoral College determines who wins anyway? 

But voting does hold value. We can make it clear to the older generations that we aren’t happy with the status quo and that the country should be moving forward, not backward. According to the U.S. Census, 18 to 29-year-old voters were the only age group to report a higher voter turnout in 2016, and the 2018 midterms mirrored these results.

We tell ourselves to be patient, that one day a millennial will attempt to make change in Congress, and a Democratic president will swoop in and fix all of Trump’s mistakes in 2020. Until then, all we can do is continue watching Trump’s administration and vote.

Political and racial tensions are high, and Gen Z is in the middle of the conversation. We may be anxious and disillusioned about what is unfolding around us, but with increased young voter turnout and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez’s win in the 2018 midterm elections, we’re determined to change the world into a more tolerable, equal place — starting with government.