By Angie Cisneros and Daniel Sanchez
Minneapolis, Minn. and Boca Raton, Fla.
Most teenagers may not be eligible to vote, but Generation Z has increasing influence on the policies of both parties, especially those of Democrats. In interviews with four high school students who are part of the Princeton Summer Journalism Program, the clear consensus was that young people are putting their support behind Joe Biden for one major reason: He is not Donald Trump.
Sitting in her home in Boston, 17-year-old Paola Ruiz put it simply: “We have to vote for the lesser of two evils.” Ruiz called Biden “chemotherapy” for the “cancer” caused by the current administration.
Other teenagers had similar views of Biden, both as an individual and as a candidate. Sofia Barnett, a 17-year-old from Frisco, Texas, rattled off what she finds distasteful about Biden, from his 1994 crime bill to the sexual assault allegations made against him. However, when asked who she would vote for, she stood by the Democratic nominee.
Kayla Bey, a 17-year-old from Lilburn, Georgia, said Biden alienated her when he said on a radio program that if you vote for Trump, you “ain’t Black.”
“I just feel like the Black community has gone through so much; I think it was entitled
for him to say that,” Bey said, suggesting such comments may have dampened enthusiasm for Biden.
The teenagers were adamant about their desire to elect more progressive figures. “I was a big Bernie supporter,” said 17-year-old Andrea Plascencia from Flower Mound, Texas—a view echoed by her peers.
Bey mentioned Beto O’Rourke, a Democrat known for supporting the legalization of marijuana and raising the minimum wage.
But after their preferred candidates dropped out of the primary, students have tried to find the same ideals in the presumptive nominee. Bey suggested that Biden would be more palatable if he more strongly advocated for expansion in health care. Ruiz, meanwhile, called on Biden to offer free college for all and debt relief, while Plascencia said she hoped he “can advocate for equality” through policies that benefit people from low-income backgrounds.
All of the students interviewed viewed Biden as an “intermediate” president, one who would work to bring the country back to a normality present before the Trump era.
Jariel Christopher, an 18-year-old from Port Allen, Louisiana, summed it up by saying the strongest argument she saw for Biden is that she foresees more chaos in the country if Trump is reelected.