Connect with us

Politics

Gen Z was fed up with the status quo. The coronavirus could reinforce their liberal politics. – Washington Post

Published

on


“There’s so much anger and frustration that these are things that have been impacting us for so long, and it took a pandemic?” Rehac said. “Here’s all of this attention and, all of a sudden, all of these resources that everyone said didn’t exist.”

Generation Z was already politically liberal, increasingly activist and fed up with the status quo. The oldest members of the generation — which includes those born from 1997 to 2012, according to the Pew Research Center — grew up amid soaring inequality and overwhelmingly backed Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.) in the Democratic primaries for the presidential nomination.

Now the coronavirus crisis may solidify their political identity, experts say. As the pandemic and its economic havoc exacerbate disparities, some Gen Zers see grim validation of their support for the government-run programs and social-welfare policies less popular with their parents and grandparents. Seventy percent of them believe the government should be doing more to solve problems, compared to 53 percent of Gen Xers and 49 percent of baby boomers, according to Pew.

Gen Z caresreally deeply about inequalities and addressing that directly,” said Kei Kawashima-Ginsberg, who directs the Center for Information and Research on Civic Learning and Engagement at Tufts University. “And that’s part of the reason big government appeals to them … universal health care, universal income and all that. And I think this pandemic, if anything, would really kind of affirm their position.”

Images of carefree spring breakers, who traveled to beach towns last month as concerns mounted about the virus’s spread, have dominated popular views of the generation. The nation erupted with fury at Miami Beach revelers who griped about bar shutdowns. They fed the worst stereotypes of young people as self-absorbed and thoughtless about the elderly most likely to die if they didn’t help “flatten the curve” to slow the spread of infection so that the health-care system isn’t overwhelmed.

But for another segment of the generation — which turned the trauma of school shootings and grim forecasts about the climate into millions-strong movements — the virus has energized their political activism. They see this crisis as inextricably linked to other problems that plague them and wonder whether the coronavirus pandemic could bring more people around to their calls for radical change.

As the seriousness of the crisis settled in for 17-year-old Xiye Bastida, she canceled a trip to Mexico and drew up a strict “quarantine schedule” for her weekdays holed up indoors, limiting herself to one hour of Netflix.

Sacrifice is a driving philosophy of Bastida’s politics. The climate activist, whom news outlets have dubbed “America’s Greta Thunberg,” has begged others to make big, uncomfortable changes to avert disaster.

“It’s for the greater good,” she says of the societal shutdown that put her senior year in limbo.

She and other young activists have been using some of their time in self-quarantine to organize protests and grow the movements behind their own causes. They have incorporated the pandemic into their messaging about health care, climate change and income inequality.

Written into Bastida’s Friday schedule: “Strike for Climate and an appropriate government response to COVID-19. ”

“They will see this as a life-changing moment in many ways,” Kawashima-Ginsberg predicted, “whereas older adults may see this as a really major disruption in our lives, hopefully going back. ”

The crisis generation

Bastida doesn’t want the world to go back to normal, even as her life in New York City is upended. Yes, prom was canceled; her parents’ jobs and work visas are newly uncertain; her family has fled their apartment for a friend’s home in Massachusetts, worried about staying in the building where young and old share the same elevator.

But for Bastida, back to normal would mean returning to a society in which individual interest reigns and each generation fends for its own well-being.

“Emotionally, a lot of people are very unsettled … feeling like this is a crisis,” Bastida said of the pandemic. “And this is how we feel every day. ”

In a Pew poll conducted in late March, the majority of adult Gen Zers said the virus is a “major threat” to the country’s economy and the health of the population. While only 22 percent saw it as a threat to their own health, a majority believe the pandemic put their personal financial situation at risk.

Recent data from the center found workers age 16 to 24 — half of whom work in the hard-hit service sector — will be disproportionately affected by layoffs due to the virus, although most high school and college students won’t get checks from the government’s massive stimulus plan. Researchers are wondering whether the coronavirus pandemic will become to Gen Z what the Great Recession was to millennials.

Millennials “came into adulthood in a really difficult economic time, and they really struggled to get their footing,” said Kim Parker, director of social trends research at the Pew Research Center. “We thought it was going to be different for Gen Z. But now this sort of turns that all upside down.”

Rather than be sidelined by that turmoil, many young activists are finding ways to push their political efforts forward.

Normally, Bastida would march out after AP Calculus and set up at city hall for a climate change protest. But in these strange new times, it was a digital strike, with video chats and tweeted pictures of cardboard signs. Social media savvy and already serving as tech support for work-from-home parents, Gen Z was perfectly fine moving online.

Joe Hobbs, a 17-year-old volunteer for Fridays for Future, the youth climate movement that Thunberg founded, said the pandemic has only intensified many young people’s commitments to their causes.

“We’re finding that across the globe, Fridays for Future activists and organizers are doing even more because they have nothing else to do,” Hobbs said from Columbia, Md., where he’s under a stay-at-home order. “They don’t have school to distract them. ”

March for Our Lives, the student-led group that mobilized for gun control after the Parkland, Fla., school shooting in 2018, has been tweeting about two public health emergencies: “Denial isn’t a policy: not for #COVID19, and not for the gun violence epidemic.”

“We need our leaders to ACT to save lives,” the group wrote. “We need REAL policy solutions. ”

In Harlem last week, Rehac was talking about rent cancellation at a pro-Sanders town hall held by video. New York Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo (D) has halted evictions for 90 days, but Housing Justice for All, a coalition that Rehac belongs to, is pushing him to completely wipe out those months of rent. Rehac argues it’s necessary as people stare down weeks and maybe months of unemployment.

She thinks the cancel-rent campaign is gaining steam. And maybe, she added, the pain of shutting down New York City could get more people to listen about the bigger ideas: more stringent rent control, more money for affordable housing.

“If we had a #HomesGuarantee millions of people wouldn’t be worried about paying rent tomorrow,” Housing Justice for All tweeted as the April 1 rent due date loomed. “Or on May 1. Or on June 1. Imagine that. ”

Other young devotees of Sanders, a self-described democratic socialist, also say the virus has underscored vast gaps in wealth and a broken health care system. Voters age 24 and younger favored Sanders by huge margins in this year’s Democratic primaries, with three-quarters choosing him in California and Michigan exit polling.

While their turnout lags behind their elders, Gen Z will comprise 1 in 10 eligible voters at the time of the November presidential election, according to Pew.

The coronavirus crisis “really does expose all the inequities that people knew existed but maybe couldn’t see as clearly until this point,” said Roxie Richner. Her high school in Michigan has turned to non-graded “enrichment” activities, she said, unsure how to handle the fact that not everyone has laptops and Internet access.

For years, Richner has been a fervent Sanders supporter — holding a campaign kickoff party in her living room, volunteering ahead of the March 10 Michigan primary and feeling crushed when her candidate lost every county. But maybe, she thought, this moment of upheaval could shift politics in the United States for good. The senator from Vermont has been tweeting about the millions of Americans laid off with “nothing in the bank,” the big companies that said they couldn’t afford paid sick leave, and the people who would die because they waited too long to go to the hospital, anxious about the bill.

A day after celebrating her 18th birthday on March 26 with friends over FaceTime — someone tried to light a toothpick because no one had candles — she was feeling stir-crazy and scared, but also wondering if the country might emerge from all this a bit more open to her generation’s demands.

“I think it does give people some insight into what it’s like experiencing a time of crisis,” Richner said, “and that realization that a lot of America lives in crisis mode 24-7, whether there’s a pandemic or not. ”

The greater good

Bastida is wondering whether the needle could move on climate change, the issue that she says became personal for her when her Mexican hometown flooded. She spent the last Friday night in March tuning in from her family friends’ kitchen to a “Zoom party,” which was really a planning meeting for the Earth Day demonstration that would now have to take place fully online.

“Every crisis needs to be treated like a crisis,” her fellow activist Thunberg had said on a public Zoom call last month, not long before announcing she was recovering after exhibiting symptoms of covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.

Bastida ran down to-dos with 11 high school and college students calling in from various time zones, some of them wearing pajamas. They wondered who they could get to appear in an Earth Day video. Willow and Jaden Smith? What about Miley Cyrus? TikTok star Charli D’Amelio?

Someone had reached out to about 50 social media influencers and gotten encouraging responses, although one had asked whether the video would be a “paid gig. ”

Bastida and her friends laughed: No.

Back in the city she left, her 22-year-old friend Daphne Frias is fighting the coronavirus and pneumonia, isolated in a hotel room that ambulances wail past a dozen times a day.

Immunocompromised with cerebral palsy, Frias spent so much time in hospitals growing up that she calls herself a “professional patient.” She has gotten pneumonia almost every year for the past seven years. She didn’t wait for a stay-at-home order, retreating indoors before a single case of the coronavirus was confirmed in New York.

But March 9 was a beautiful, warm day, she said, and she allowed herself a trip outside. Four days later, she was coughing and tired, then dizzy and feverish. She tested positive for the coronavirus.

Her mother and sister quarantined with her at home, donning masks and gloves to throw out the garbage. Friends dropped off groceries outside their apartment. But after making a slow recovery, Frias’s fever came roaring back last week, and she decided she needed to separate from her family.

Some of Frias’s health-care costs were covered, she said, but other bills — the hotel room, the medications, the four-times-a-day inhalation treatments that clear her already-weak lungs — are adding up to the point that her bank sends fraud alerts. She needs savings to move to Baltimore in a few months for graduate school, where she’ll work toward a medical degree and master’s in public health. While she found financial relief in a friend’s GoFundMe campaign, she knows others are less fortunate.

Like Bastida, her friend and fellow activist, Frias sees an opening. The usual election-year politics seem distant to her as the ups and downs of campaigns gave way to headlines about the struggles of average Americans amid the pandemic.

We’re able to listen in a way that we haven’t been able to before,” Frias said. “And I hope that when things go back to normal and it gets noisy again, we can remember to still listen and help people the way that we have now.”

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Politics Podcast: What Biden’s VP Picks Say About Him – FiveThirtyEight

Published

on


Given that presidential nominees choose their running mates without any formal input from voters, how they choose can say a lot about the candidates and their views of their party and the country. In this installment of the FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast, Perry Bacon Jr. and Julia Azari discuss the considerations former Vice President Joe Biden is making as he vets potential running mates — and what this says about his campaign.

You can listen to the episode by clicking the “play” button in the audio player above or by downloading it in iTunes, the ESPN App or your favorite podcast platform. If you are new to podcasts, learn how to listen.

The FiveThirtyEight Politics podcast publishes Mondays and Thursdays. Help new listeners discover the show by leaving us a rating and review on iTunes. Have a comment, question or suggestion for “good polling vs. bad polling”? Get in touch by email, on Twitter or in the comments.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

The politics of a pandemic – POLITICO

Published

on


Guest host Eugene Daniels talks with national political correspondent David Siders about how, three months in, the coronavirus crisis is simultaneously upending and reaffirming political allegiances.

Subscribe and rate Nerdcast on Apple Podcasts.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Politics

Bike Share a Victim of Anti-Urban Identity Politics – Raise the Hammer

Published

on


Bike Share a Victim of Anti-Urban Identity Politics

Strategy only makes sense if we’re all trying to build on our common values and interests, and the zero-sum politics of resentment are antithetical to common values.

By Ryan McGreal
Published May 28, 2020

With 1,000 bikes, 26,000 active members and 350,000 passenger trips a year, Hamilton Bike Share is a bargain at a gross annual operating cost of $700,000. But Hamilton City Council cannot resist the atavistic urge to put identity politics ahead of strategic planning.


Hamilton Bike Share hub at Chedoke Golf Course

After yet another ultramarathon session of ocean-boiling hyperbolic bikeshedding over a project with utterly miniscule costs – we are talking, after all, about 0.02 percent of the city’s annual budget – Council deadlocked on whether to fund the continued operation of Hamilton Bike Share for the rest of the year.

Instead, Councillors voted to spend an unknown amount of money to warehouse the bikes once the system shuts down on June 1. Amazingly, the motion by Ward 3 Councillor Nrinder Nann would have funded the system using money already earmarked for local spending in wards 1, 2 and 3.

That is to say, the councillors opposed to this motion voted to overrule the wards 1-3 councillors spending money from their own dedicated ward capital reserves to keep the program running.

This is a gross double standard and the kind of anti-urban hypocrisy that has been drearily common over the past two decades since amalgamation.

Legacy of Anti-Urban Resentment

The most vocal anti-urban sentiment has been from angry suburban leaders who never wanted to get bolted onto Hamilton through amalgamation (but were happy to have Hamilton subsidize their infrastructure through regional government, of course).

But amalgamation – which was imposed on all of us by the Conservative Mike Harris government – has left the old city subject to the one-way whims and caprices of anti-urban resentment and grievance, which suburban councillors openly embody and shamelessly encourage to this day.

The framing of every issue in us-vs-them terms is deliberate and debilitating for a city trying to build common ground and move forward.

In the face of such grievance-based identity politics, strategic plans don’t matter. Strategy only makes sense if we’re all trying to build on our common values and interests, and the zero-sum politics of resentment are antithetical to common values.

Likewise, the facts don’t matter. This decision isn’t about making the most cost-effective use of scarce resources, it’s about driving a wedge into the body politic and pandering for rhetorical points against the ‘other’, no matter the actual cost.

Nor is consistency a factor. Many of the councillors complaining that bike share doesn’t serve their wards are the same councillors who only agreed to allow it in the first place as long as it didn’t go in their wards.

Stubborn Refusal to Learn and Grow

Facts and arguments need to take root in a worldview to influence our decisions. The angry, anti-urban worldview that drives Hamilton’s identity politics is stony ground indeed. It is the place where so many transformative ideas go to die.

Anti-urban resentment is a failing strategy for Hamilton as a whole, but it works well for the cynical politicians who stoke it. Keeping their constituents misinformed and bitter keeps them employed even as it harms the city as a whole – including their constituents, who deserve better.

On the rare occasion where an inclusive urban project actually goes ahead and is successful, that just makes the aggrieved anti-urban haters even more bitter and resentful. It certainly doesn’t inspire them to reconsider their opposition to it.

For example, how many lower-city one-way dead zones do we need to convert into vibrant two-way people places before the haters finally acknowledge that city streets work better when they are more inclusive?

How many new protected two-way cycle tracks have to fill up with cyclists before we are willing to acknowledge that there is a huge latent demand for safe cycling infrastructure?

Identity Politics Trumps Strategy

Bike Share was widely (by the haters) expected to be a total failure. Instead, pound for pound it has been one of the most successful systems in North America: built and operated on a shoestring budget, it achieved 26,000 active members and 350,000 trips a year.

Far from mollifying the critics, its success just made them hate it even more. Bike Share has had a target on its back since the day it launched.

How do you reason with bad faith? How do you negotiate with malice? How do you build on a foundation of cynicism, grievance and deliberate misinformation? After close to two decades of caring about what happens in this city, I am no closer to a workable answer now than I was in 2003.

This city is broken. I have no idea how we can fix it. But until we do, every new project faces a hurricane of resistance, every existing project lives in existential jeopardy and each tiny step we take upward is on a slurry of unstable land that is itself inexorably sliding backwards.

Ryan McGreal, the editor of Raise the Hammer, lives in Hamilton with his family and works as a programmer, writer and consultant. Ryan volunteers with Hamilton Light Rail, a citizen group dedicated to bringing light rail transit to Hamilton. Ryan wrote a city affairs column in Hamilton Magazine, and several of his articles have been published in the Hamilton Spectator. His articles have also been published in The Walrus, HuffPost and Behind the Numbers. He maintains a personal website, has been known to share passing thoughts on Twitter and Facebook, and posts the occasional cat photo on Instagram.

1 Comment

Read Comments

Post a Comment

You must be logged in to comment.

Let’s block ads! (Why?)



Source link

Continue Reading

Trending