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Inside Beat

Generation Z dams 'red wave' as midterm elections finalize

Maxwell Frost is the first U.S. representative that's a part of Generation Z. His and other Democrat's wins are thanks to his peers. – Photo by Maxwell Alejandro Frost / Unsplash

Unless you live under a rock, you have probably seen countless infographics about voting and pictures of people with their “I Voted” stickers flooding your Instagram feeds recently after the midterm elections this past Tuesday.

Along with the wave of darkness that has emerged from daylight savings, we were all expecting another type of wave to emerge this week — known as “the red wave.” Historically, the party in power in terms of the presidency isn’t the party that ends up taking over the House of Representatives or Senate. If we have a Republican president, the House and Senate are typically flipped during midterms by Democrats, and vice versa.

But this year's election has proven the opposite. You would've wanted to have your popcorn out for this midterm election — we didn’t witness that nearly guaranteed "red wave" despite the major confidence from Fox News and Republicans nationally. But we did witness a whole lot of firsts, and a whole lot of Democrats creeping up on the heels of their Republican opposition.

There's an anxious wait to see who will win the Senate seat as Georgia goes into the runoff election between incumbent Georgia Senator Raphael Warnock, a Democrat, and Republican candidate Herschel Walker. Yes, that is Christian Walker’s father, and yes, I am majorly stressed out about a qualified candidate having a runoff with a former football player.

Another big blow for Republicans was in the swing state of Pennsylvania, where Pennsylvania Lieutenant Governor and Democratic candidate John Fetterman defeated the Republican candidate and former cardiothoracic surgeon/talk show host Mehmet Oz in the race for Senator. Not only was Oz backed by former President Donald J. Trump but Trump had also lost Pennsylvania to now-President Joseph R. Biden Jr. during the 2020 Presidential election. Double ouch for the Republicans.

There were some highly qualified firsts that’ll bring national pride and excitement for me and any other Democrats. Summer Lee was Pennsylvania's first Black woman elected to Congress. Wes Moore was elected the first Black governor of Maryland, while Maura Healey and Tina Kotek were elected governor of Massachusetts and governor of Oregon respectively, making them the first openly lesbian governors in U.S. history. 

Our friendly neighboring state of New York reelected its first female governor, Kathy Hochul. And I couldn’t leave out our very own first Generation Z representative, 25-year-old Maxwell Frost, who became the first Generation Z representative after winning District 10 in Florida.

Many younger people, including Generation Z, made key wins like Fetterman's easier for Democrats, proving the influence our generation has in changing elections. We also saw the second-highest youth voter turnout for a midterm election in nearly 30 years.

The civil engagement from this generation is quite profound. Our access to social media has allowed for a large influence on elections and helped to spread awareness about voting sights, voting days, where to vote, when to register, etc.

Our platforms have allowed politicians to target their content toward us and help us become engaged and educated as young and new voters. Our engagement in politics also stems from how much as students we have experienced that other generations haven’t.

We live through gun violence and fear of mass shootings daily. We’re young people living through the overturning of our fundamental human rights like access to safe abortions, and we are watching our planet's health decline due to climate change.

As college students, we are firsthand witnesses to the financial burden that are student loans and how much student loan forgiveness will set us up financially for the future. The election of candidates that fight for our human rights, climate rights and financial certainty is important for us and our future.

This midterm election has proven that we are the future, and it’s up to us to save this country, our rights and our planet. Our votes count, and every vote matters. Our vote can be the difference between a qualified candidate being elected to Congress or a retired football player and a retired cardiothoracic doctor with a talk show being elected to Congress.

Even though there was a failed projected "red wave" and Democrats are coming in strong and could make a comeback (fingers crossed), this isn’t a complete win for Democrats or a loss for Republicans. This is just what happens when we show up and vote. The overwhelming amount of Generation Z votes is showing that every vote matters. Without voting, the "red wave" projection could’ve been a reality.

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