Gen Z turns 24: Time to stand up

By Reade Brower | Jan 16, 2020

There has been a lot written by and about our youth, blaming older generations (rightfully so!) like the “baby boomers” for what is happening with our climate, our lousy gun control legislation (rightfully so!), the acrimony that continues to get ramped up during the Trump era (rightfully so!) and so much more (rightfully so!).

Greta Thunberg, Sweden’s 16-year old climate change champion, was Time magazine’s youngest ever 2019 “Person of the Year,” beating out President Donald Trump and others. This prestigious award helps bring youth activism to a heightened level.

Before that the Parkland shooting teen survivors spoke eloquently at rallies, awakening the world with their noise.

Locally, Courier Publications columnist and high school senior from Camden Pearl Benjamin is using her bully pulpit to spread her message that adults need to step up, or get out of the way.

In Pearl’s latest column, “Choose the Right Battle” (, she laments (rightly so!) that “2020 is looking bleak” with flooding cities, brink of war leadership in the Middle East, out-of-control fires in Australia, and more problems than answers in our country. Pearl and her fellow young activists are angry with the climate deniers and war mongers putting her generation in real risk, with no end in sight. She promises to call out Maine Sens. King and Collins, asking them to fight the battles they’ve been elected to fight for us.

She is right when saying that inheriting these problems and fixing a world “ravaged by disasters” should not be compounded with a war that “can’t be won with bombs and bullets,” ending her column where she started, stating: “Let 2020 be the year we get our priorities straight and start choosing our battles wisely.”

Society will continue to benefit from involvement from the younger generations, the time is now for them to put up or shut up. With activism comes responsibility; when Pearl speaks about “choosing battles wisely,” the idea of voting in 2020 needs to be front and center.

Instead of blaming the prior generations, 2020 is the opportunity for Greta, Pearl, the Parkland survivors, and others from “Generation Z” to be counted. Now numbering an estimated one in every 10 voters, the “Z’s” need to consider organizing their vote, rallying around candidates who will serve them. The only way to get rid of climate deniers and those with no foreign policy history is voting them out. We are seeing impeachment is an imperfect attempt that will never have the legs voters do.

How about this challenge for a 2020 resolution: less whining, less complaining, less blaming past generations (blaming your parents’ generation is age-old and doesn’t accomplish much), and more action. Step up; take charge and VOTE in 2020. Spend the time saved not blaming and complaining to organize your generation, partnering up with millennials, to create change instead of demanding it from the elders who screwed it up.

The world has shown that usually the dysfunctional mess-makers are not the ones you want cleaning up after themselves; remember THEY are still DYSFUNCTIONAL. It is the new generation that needs to put it on the line and show, by example, what it means to have conviction and be led by your moral compass instead of your wallet.

Pew Research charts show “Generation Z,” those born after 1996, will comprise 10% (up from 4% in 2016) of the voters, and the millennials (born 1981-1996) 27%, giving people in their 30s and younger a decided edge over the “boomers" (born 1946-1964) at a combined 38% to 28%.

Young people, you have a choice in 2020. You can be part of the solution — or part of the problem if you don’t vote.

The 2016 election saw 135 million Americans voting, with Clinton getting 48.2% of the popular vote, Trump receiving 46.1% and others combining for the remaining 5.7%. With the block of 2020 voters in their teens, 20s and 30s estimated at over 50 million, you can make a difference. A few percentage points' sway is all that is needed.

Further, if time and effort is put into getting out more voters, that number increases, as does the influence in who leads our country going forward.

It is easy to despair, it is easy to whine and complain about past generations letting us down, but the 2020 election can be one motivated by young people wanting change. If that happens, climate control, our Supreme Court future nominations, and more will all be in your hands.

One whiner is enough and we have that currently in the White House as Trump whimpers about “presidential harassment,” fake news, hoaxes and more.

Pearl’s generation, along with the millennials, can team up and lead the way with conviction, leaving blame behind for the weak and tragic.

2020 is the time to replace talking with action.


:LIP: Let us have 20/20 vision in the New Year.

“Let me tell you the secret that has led me to my goal. My strength lies solely in my tenacity.” — Louis Pasteur, chemist, bacteriologist (1822-1895)

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Comments (1)
Posted by: Richard McKusic, Sr. | Jan 16, 2020 09:50

YES!! " Step up; take charge and VOTE in 2020." They definitely can make a difference. Looking forward to seeing that happen here on the mid-coast.

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