LETTER: Generation Z Not Solely Responsible to Holding Elected Officials Accountable

Submitted by Sarah E. Mickley, Sacred Heart Greenwich Class of 2021

Alongside many others, I felt an immense feeling of relief on two days. First of which was November 5th, when the news came out for District 36’s state senate race that Ryan Fazio had conceded to Alex Kasser. And the second of which was on November 7th, when the presidential race was called by many for President-Elect Biden. 

I was among few who was debatably more delighted by the former. I had the privilege of being an intern for Alex Kasser from the beginning of September until November 3rd.

During my time working as an intern, I came to realize the importance of local-level representatives. We cannot emphasize the role and importance of those in Washington and ignore what is happening in our towns and states. The easiest way to spark change is to work locally. Grassroots movements are imperative to see tangible changes in our communities. The officials who are in these local offices are the easiest to get in contact with as they are only representing a small number of people. Our state level officials encourage their constituents to voice their opinions, and then on the issues brought to their attention. The intention of this letter is not to dwell upon widespread ignorance to down-ballot candidates and elections; nevertheless, my experience learning about state politics frames my motivation in writing this letter.

As a 17-year-old, I am a member of Generation Z, arguably the most politically aware and active generation since the founding of this country. Our generation has been at the front, leading several powerful movements to demand action on life-threatening issues such as gun violence, climate change, and police brutality.

The motivation and determination of this generation, called by some the New Greatest Generation, is inspiring.

However, many adults have taken to relying on Generation Z to be the change. They expect these 8-23-year-olds to change the unjust systems and structures put into place by our and their forefathers. With this assumption, many in older generations end up neglecting their continued roles in securing a just and free country.

In Greta Thunberg’s speech during the U.N. Climate Summit, she observes, “This is all wrong. I shouldn’t be up here…Yet you all come to us young people for hope. How dare you!”

We should not and cannot have total responsibility for the future of the nation and the world placed on our shoulders. The older generations vacillate between invalidating our voices and opinions and expecting us to be the sole catalyst of change.

Many of us still cannot vote, and while we are doing our best to advocate for needed reforms and actions, without a vote, our voices can only reach so far. We have done so much, but we need reinforcement and assistance from older generations to be and elect changemakers.

Your vote is needed to help elect changemakers like our local example, Alex Kasser, and our national level, Joe Biden and Kamala Harris. People who have vowed to work for change and have the interests of our wellbeing and future in mind.

However, we cannot stop once these people are elected. We must continue to fight for necessary change. We must not let the issues that we hold dear become nothing more than a trend. Support and backing from adults helps with continuity. We should see activists of all ages protesting injustice and demanding progress. Youth growing up in these times are used to regularly challenging our perspectives. We should expect adults to do the same.

We must still be as outraged about injustices as we were before, and we must call for change and action when and where it is needed. Many people in older generations were the same way as Generation Z when they were younger, protesting inequality and calling out injustice. However, the passion they had in their youth seems to have faded as they feel it is no longer their responsibility. Every one of us who is able must hold officials accountable.

We must demand those we have given positions of power to work for us. Governments derive their power, as stated in the Declaration of Independence, from the consent of the governed. If our officials are pococurante towards issues that plague our nation and our people, we must demand action.

We must make sure that those we elect understand that their power derives from us and that they are working for the people, not themselves. Complacency enables corruption. 

Sarah E. Mickley
Sacred Heart Greenwich  Class of 2021