In the 2020 election, Gen Z came out in numbers to elect Joe Biden as America’s 46th president. According to CNBC, around 55% of registered Gen Z voters showed up to the polls, with 65% casting their vote for Biden. In key states like Georgia and Pennsylvania, Gen Z was decisive Biden’s victory. However, with such electoral importance, Gen Z now hopes that the Biden administration would return the favor and be beneficial to them as well. Fortunately, Biden has already proposed certain policies that would improve the lives of Gen Zers, specifically in regards to COVID-19, college and climate change.
The pandemic has upended the lives of Gen Zers. We’ve lost friends, family, and members of our community. We’ve lost our jobs and many of us still can’t go in person to school.
Biden has already announced his $1.9 trillion legislation for Congress, titled America’s Rescue Plan. Its purpose is to ameliorate the economic and health implications of the pandemic. The plan allocates $20 billion towards vaccination efforts and $50 billion for increased testing. It also sets aside $130 billion to help schools re-open, while providing $1,400 stimulus checks and a $400 increase in weekly unemployment benefits.
To implement his COVID-19 agenda, Biden has nominated Vivek Murthy to Surgeon General – the same role that Murthy held under President Obama’s administration while he lead the response to the Ebola and Zika outbreaks. Additionally, Biden nominated Dr. Rochelle Walensky as the head of the CDC. Walensky has spent the majority of her career combatting infectious diseases, focusing heavily on HIV. Currently, she leads the infectious diseases division at Massachusetts General Hospital and teaches medicine at Harvard.
Furthermore, the President has also signed numerous executive orders to combat COVID-19. On his first day, he required masks and social distancing on all federal properties and by federal employees and contractors. He also reentered the World Health Organization after President Trump began the US’s withdrawal last summer.
Like millennials, Gen Z will probably have to take out billions of dollars in loans to afford a college education. Going unresolved, the student loan debt can cause major financial problems for Gen Z, preventing us from affording a home or taking career risks.
However, Biden has a plan to stop this impending crisis. In order to help those who already graduated, he wants to cancel $10,000 of each borrowers student debt. To help those wanting to go to college, Biden wishes to make public colleges’ and universities’ tuition free.
Because many student loan borrowers are currently struggling to make their payments during COVID-19, the Biden administration has extended Trump’s pause on collecting student loan payments until September.
For Gen Z, climate change is at the forefront of issues they wish to see acted upon. According to Forbes Magazine, 41% of Gen Zers believe climate change is the most important problem facing the world. As a result, Gen Z hopes Biden can make strides to improve this pressing problem.
Luckily, the Biden Administration has released a plan to combat climate change. First, Biden plans to ask Congress to invest in infrastructure improvements to ensure that the America’s roads, bridges, and other means of transportation are prepared for rising sea levels, more powerful hurricanes, and other adverse effects of climate change. Next, Biden wants to ensure that the US uses 100% clean energy by 2050 through executive orders targeted to reduce fossil fuel usage and pushing through legislation to increase clean energy incentives. Lastly, he wants to work with other countries to reduce their emissions alongside the US.
To accomplish these goals, Biden nominated the head of the North Carolina Department of Environmental Quality, Michael Regan, as EPA Administrator. Many environmental activists, such as the Sierra Club, applauded Regan earlier this year when he got North Carolina’s major energy company, Duke Energy, to clean up coal ash. Additionally, Biden appointed Former Secretary of State John Kerry, who helped negotiate the Paris Climate Accords, to be the newly-created Special Presidential Envoy for Climate Change.
In his first days in office, Biden already made strides in protecting our environment by putting the US back in the Paris Climate Accords, stopping oil drilling in the Arctic, and halting the Keystone XL oil pipeline.
If enacted, Biden’s plans would impact Gen Z in regards to the COVID-19 pandemic, college, and climate change. In addition, he has also nominated experienced and competent officials to help achieve his goals, while swiftly moving to enact change through executive orders in his first days of office. Just as Trump was a consequential President for Gen Z’s political identity and culture, Biden is shaping up to be a consequential President for Gen Z’s future.
Alex Dray is a Senior at Ransom Everglades in Miami, Florida. He is involved in his school’s Speech and Debate, cross-country, and track teams. He also serves as a representative for his grade on Student Government. When away from school, you could find Alex biking with his friends or volunteering for a political campaign. His passion to find out ways to improve the world drives him in what he does. He recognizes that previous generations have created many problems that Gen Z is going to have to deal with and solve. For that reason, Gen Z Identity lab interests him— it is a place where Gen Z can discuss the problems they see and propose solutions.