People assume a lot about Gen Z and young Millennials: we're overly sensitive, we're not willing to work hard, or we're just downright entitled. Having grown up in a post-smartphone society, we're consumed by social media. We aren't engaged enough in the political system or take politics too personally. People harbor these assumptions without actually talking — or, better yet, listening — to young adults. Though this isn't a new phenomenon by any means, it is an especially critical mistake as we approach the presidential election.
Young and first-time voters will make up a sizable voting bloc come Nov. 3. Millennials and Gen Z now make up 37 percent of the eligible voting population, according to census data analyzed by the Brookings Institution. According to CIRCLE, youth voter-registration numbers are higher in a number of states than in 2016. What's more, Rock the Vote recently had its most successful National Voter Registration Day ever on Sept. 22, with an estimated 200,000 people submitting applications or checking their registration status.
To dive deeper into this political moment, POPSUGAR teamed up with YR Media to host a virtual roundtable discussion with five young adults who are all part of the project by YR Media and WNYC's Radio Rookies called 18-to-29 Now: Young America Speaks Up, where they've been documenting what's at stake for them this year — and beyond. Myself and Merk Nguyen, who cohosts the podcast Adult ISH, moderated the discussion on Oct. 2, which focused less on the two competing presidential candidates and more on the interests, needs, and demands of everyone present. It was enlightening, often impassioned, and unexpectedly hopeful.
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