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Opinion: Getting Gen Z into Poltitics

The end of the 2022 election left one result apparent: Gen Z is now represented in the United States government. Maxwell Alejandro Frost, from Central Florida’s very own 10th Congressional District, was elected to the United States Congress, marking the first time Gen Z people like myself have a representative in government. 

This is a trend that needs to continue in order for our government to recognize the issues our generation is facing. I got a fantastic opportunity to interview former governor and 2022 gubernatorial candidate Charlie Crist to see what he thinks about issues specific to Gen Z.

The Thursday before Election Day, I attended a canvassing event for Charlie Crist. Volunteers from every age group came together in a small Orlando building to listen to inspirational speeches from the Crist campaign team and Crist himself. The walls were covered with campaign posters for Charlie Crist, Val Demings, and Maxwell Frost. 

The people running the canvassing event, as well as the donor relations director for Crist, were all both young and incredibly accomplished. After the event had concluded, I got to walk with Crist over to his campaign bus. He then allowed me to enter his campaign bus, where I had the opportunity to ask him the following questions:

This year, Maxwell Frost won the primary, and he’s on his way to becoming the first Gen Z person in the federal government. As more and more Gen Z people enter adulthood and the workforce, what advice would you give to young adults who are just now entering the world of politics and want to get a career in that field? 

My advice would be, number one, that we need you involved for America’s future and the future of democracy. I think the best way to get involved is to volunteer on a campaign. It’s amazing how much you can learn from just being around that atmosphere, and what really works to get voters out. It is critical. So that would be my advice—and to just be yourself. 

Eventually, run for office if that’s your calling and you feel drawn to that because you can help so many people: many people who actually, sadly, are voiceless unless they have a representative, a governor or president who really cares about them so we need all the Gens to be involved. It’s very important. 

Young democrats (there’s a study that came out)—young Gen Z people—are lacking faith in democracy or in our democratic institutions compared to other generations. What would be your message to voters who may feel disillusioned with the current system? 

Well, parts of that are understandable. I mean, you know, we have in the opposite party election democracy deniers and that should rattle your sensitivities about politics, but it should only encourage greater participation—particularly by those who want to secure our democracy for the future and that’s really what’s on the ballot this time. 

I mean, last night, I saw President Biden give a whole speech about that. Democracy is on the line in this whole election, and the best way to secure it is for all of us who care deeply about it is to vote and to make sure our voice is heard come Nov. 8, if not before, in early voting. 

There’s been other studies coming out that young adults of today are earning less than their parents have relative to the time. Do you have a message for voters—young voters—who are looking for financial stability, to purchase a house, rent an apartment, just get into the workforce again? 

Sure. I always feel education is the key, whether it’s a more formalized traditional education or an education for a trade, a skill for example. You know, not everyone is meant for college necessarily, but it should be available. I feel very strongly about it and we need to maintain its affordability for our fellow Floridians and our young people to get that education but also look at issues like the minimum wage. I believe that not only fighting for $15, I think we need to fight for more, frankly, in order to make sure people do earn and can earn a living wage in our Florida where the middle class is struggling so much. 

Okay, I have one more question: What’s your favorite song or band?  

That’s a great question. Well, I like all kinds of music, so it’s hard for me to pin it down. There’s one symphony I like a lot. It’s called ‘Adagio for Strings’ (by Samuel Barber) and it’s very moving, and I think it was utilized in a movie called Platoon a number of years ago, but that’s a great piece I enjoy. 

Charlie Crist lost the election for Florida governor on Nov. 8. He officially conceded to Ron DeSantis, who was re-elected for a second term. Crist, nevertheless, expressed that he is committed to helping the people of Florida.

Hopefully, this can give you some inspiration if you are interested in a career in politics. Established politicians like Crist agree that new blood is needed in order democratic norms to continue. 

As Frost formally takes power in the U.S. Congress, we need to remind ourselves that government officials do not have to be as disconnected from reality as a lot of us think they are. We have the power to put young blood in the government and build a better future.

The opinions on this page do not necessarily reflect those of The Sandspur or Rollins College.

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