2020 Vision: A Look at Voting In The Modern Era

By Erin Bailey ’19

Stormy Skies Over the Oval Office
Photo by Erin Bailey ’19

November 3rd, 2020 the presidential election to elect the 47th president of the United States will take place. Millions of people across the country will head to the polls. Unlike previous elections, Generation Z will be taking part.

Construction in Government
Photo by Matthew Bornhorst ’19

Generation Z differs from millennials, baby boomers, and every other generation in term of the way the Gen Z is predicted to vote and what political climate they have grown up in. As Gen Z makes up all of the Regis Jesuit student population, it is this generation which is going to get a say in the polls this election.

The political climate that Gen Z has grown up in is different; the biggest and most influential political figures have been President Obama serving from 2008 to 2016 and now Donald Trump serving as Commander in Chief. Gen Z has witnessed the first African American president in the Oval Office and has seen a woman almost secure the presidency and has seen the first candidate win who has not previously held office in the modern era.

Needlessly to say, sources such as The Pew Research Center predicts that due to this these influences Gen Z is projected to differ very greatly from older generations in their political views on hot topic issues such as race and immigration. More notably, 23 percent of the voters will fall into the category of 65 and older, more than any election since the 1970’s. This is largely in part to the rising life expectancy of voters, so although the turn out for younger generations is projected to be much larger, so is the older generation.

Construction over the Capital Building,
Photo by Erin Bailey ’19

Voting is extremely important to American society as it is that basis of our democratic principles; it is what makes America well, America.

With a rise in fake news and an era where the news is constantly at our finger tips, it can be extremely difficult to decipher what news is trustworthy and a good source to base opinions and votes on. Finding truthful and viable sources is extremely difficult, When speaking about what it means to be well informed.

Although not all news is fake news, Generation Z takes in their information differs exceptionally much from prior generations. Students such as senior Claire Brennan have news notifications blipping up on their home screen every 2-3 minutes. When asked about these notifications, Claire says how “I like to be informed and turning on news notifications help a lot. It can seem somewhat suffocating at times but I feel connected to the greater world.”

Back-in-the-day, information consumption did not look anything similar to what it is today and sources were considered to be trustworthy — there were not the “fake news” scandals that pop up in all of the headlines today. News Reporters such as Walter Cronkite lead America through tragedies and elections, the image of leaders was not as important as we only saw glimpses into elected officials lives.

Public image did not always influence elections in the ways that it does in today’s times. Presidents such as FDR was able to serve with polio, President Taft served as the fattest president in history. With platforms such as Youtube, Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter the aspect of public image has been amplified.

Twitter in particular has served to be a huge platform and influence in the electoral process. When speaking about how the platform influences our generation Sean Donovan ‘19 says,“Twitter does a great job in allowing candidates to reach out to the public but it has many in problems regarding in how it is not used as a platform of education but of hate at times.”

No matter the political affiliation, our generation is constantly surrounded by politics and the news. From Apple news alerts, twitter and instagram posts and ads, to just the the television, the immediacy of news is beginning to weigh on our generation. Layton Hall ‘20 argues that “although the news is engulfing us, I think it will increase participation rates which is overall a good thing. On the other hand I think it does contribute to higher partisan loyalty and polarization.”

“It’s how politicians and adults bully each other.” Says fellow senior Amelia Frohehlich ’19 “It’s important for candidates to have a social media platform though because of how that’s how we get their information”

Regardless of the results of the election, there is no dispute in how this election will greatly differ from previous ones, and fortunately the voices of Regis Jesuit students voices will be heard in the polls. When asked about how Gen Z’s votes will influence the 2020 election Hall also says that, “The way you vote is highly dictated by teenage years, just due to the climate that we’ve grown up in, we will have much higher participation rates and most likely lean to the left”

At the end of the day, no one can completely predict how the election will turn out, all that we can do as american citizens is get out there, register to vote, and hit the polls. There is a reason people wear their “I voted” stickers with pride, when you vote you are taking part in the democracy countless Americans have fought so hard to protect.

With that, it is vitally important to get your news from good, viable, and trustworthy sources. Regis Jesuit Advanced Journalism teacher Adam Dawkins ‘98 says “There has never been a time easier to be well informed but there has never been an easier time to be misinformed.”

He suggests diversifying your news sources and “staying as far away from cable news as possible.”

Washington Monument in DC, a True Reminder of the Pillar of Democracy
Photo By Erin Bailey ’19

Harvard University published an article outlining four tips to spot a fake news story. The four tips including vetting the sources credibility, paying attention to quality and timelines, checking out the articles sources and citations, and going to fact checking websites.

We each only get one vote, so it is very important to keep in mind how important it is the become as well informed as you can be so no matter where you cast your vote next November you do it without hesitation.

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