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OpEd: Gen Zs Pragmatic Politics Could Be A Key To Ending Polarization

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OpEd: Gen Zs Pragmatic Politics Could Be A Key To Ending Polarization

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A young voter casts his ballot into the ballot box in downtown Denver November 8. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)
OpEd: Gen Zs Pragmatic Politics Could Be A Key To Ending Polarization

A young voter casts his ballot into the ballot box in downtown Denver November 8. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press) © (David Zalubowski/Associated Press) A young voter casts his ballot into the ballot box in downtown Denver on November 8. (David Zalubowski/Associated Press)

Generation Z voters are credited with containing the predicted “red wave” in the 2022 midterm elections. Last week, thousands of these young voters supported the Democrats. A CNN House poll found that 63% of Generation Z voted Democratic, much higher than the older generation. Only 43% of people over 65 voted Democrat and 55% Republican.

But these preliminary results do not mean that this new generation of voters will be Democrats. In fact, pragmatic and problem-oriented voters will be better informed.

General Zers attended the polls in large numbers and voted to impeach Donald Trump in 2020. This year they are back in action to challenge the extreme positions held by many on the right. They have reached out to abortion candidates and Democrats to overturn the election results and reject numerous extremist candidates in places like Arizona and Pennsylvania.

At the same time, politically and ideologically, this generation is not strongly party. This was illustrated by the College Pulse Future of Politics study, which polled 1,552 students at 91 colleges and universities at the beginning of the academic year.

When asked what they think of major political parties, today’s students respond enthusiastically. A quarter of all students (21%), including Democrats and Republicans, believe that the Democratic Party is acting in the interests of democracy, and 25% believe the same is true of the Republican Party.

And when asked if the party is moving in the right direction or the wrong direction, only 18% of all college students answered that the Democratic Party is moving in the right direction; The Republican numbers are slightly higher. Cynicism about the future of the party was widespread, with about half of the students being pessimistic about both parties.

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Interestingly, a poll released in late October by the Political Institute at Harvard University found that 57% of young voters aged 18-29 preferred Democratic control of Congress, while 31% preferred Republican control; 12% are undecided. However, only 32% of college-age voters identify themselves as liberals, with another 19% as conservatives. The majority of students, 48%, consider themselves moderate.

The Future of Politics poll shows a similar decline in party affiliation among younger voters. 31% said they were Republicans, while another 33% said they were Democrats. The remaining 37% are not affiliated or independent. Generation Z is in stark contrast to the Silent Generation, the generation of Presidents Biden and Nancy Pelosi, who are seeing a decline in independent voting and a rise in Republican identity in 2022.

Gallup confirmed this trend, noting that younger generations tend to be more centrist and less partisan than their older peers. Millennials appear to be relatively stable centrists, unlike previous generations who have become more partisan over time.

However, Generation Z’s lack of strong partisan views should not be taken as the last word. On the contrary, it is an opportunity for both sides.

The youngest politically active group in America is unhappy with the current situation. But he votes for any party that takes a moderate position, and any party that follows a pluralistic path has a chance to garner Gen Z support.

Democrats are doing it in leading political positions in 2022, but Democrats can’t stray too far from the center and take on ultra-progressive positions that prevent them from forming a coalition with many Americans. Republicans should say goodbye to Trump’s outrageous lies about the 2020 election, his defense of the January 6 riots, and other fringe positions.

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While it remains to be seen how the parties will shake things up and what position they will take in the 2024 presidential election, it is clear that Generation Z will be a politically active generation. This trend could help reduce our polarization and extremism as parties respond to rising political power.

Samuel J. Abrams is a professor of political science at Sarah Lawrence College and a senior fellow at the American Enterprise Institute.

This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.

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