Being young in 2020 means having one main purpose: voting as if your life depends on it.
Young naive 2016 Sophia Ungaro believed that the world was simple. Sure, as a 17-year-old I was shocked when Donald Trump won the presidency, but I told myself it was ok.
I come from a conservative family who has and will vote for Trump in the upcoming election.
While I can rationalize their Republican identity, I do not see the logic behind their Trump vote.
As painful as that is to see from my loved ones, I know as a first-time voter, a second-time voter or a 60th-time voter that I will not ever vote for Trump.
Coming from the traditionally little red dot in the blue that is California has continued to challenge me. Moving from the reddest red to arguably the bluest blue gave me the ability to see both sides of the spectrum in broad daylight. At 18-years-old, I moved up north to attend San Francisco State University.
While I lived in San Francisco, I was shoved into understanding just how blind I was. My introduction to communication class introduced me to LGBTQ+ history. I learned about gender inclusivity and activism. My professors gave me the critical eye for social justice that I have now.
I looked back at my life and understood that what once were jokes I laughed off were truly racial microaggressions and sexual assault. I took a critical look at my life, educated myself and grew into the proud social activist I am today.
Now, I choose my battles with my family about sharing my thoughts and ideas because I fear them resenting me or being disappointed. As a 21-year-old, I am against Trump, but maybe in the future we will come together on our beliefs. Nevertheless, I will continue to have uncomfortable conversations that make me nervous, sweaty and nauseous.
It’s all on fire
It feels as if everything is falling apart 25/8. Civil unrest rocks our country while folks risk their lives for social justice, and meanwhile the president could not care less about the BIPOC community.
The pandemic is soaring in the U.S. with over seven million cases and 209,000 deaths and no hope for an end in sight. As death tolls have risen, Trump has strongly stuck to the idea that the pandemic hasn’t done harm.
“It affects virtually nobody,” Trump said at a rally. “It’s amazing.”
If the pandemic affects virtually nobody, Trump is going to be shocked when he hears about the Navajo Nation. COVID-19 has devastated the Navajo Nation. People of all ages were infected within the community. There have been over 10,000 cases and over 500 deaths.
Furthermore, under the Trump administration, people of color, women and many underrepresented minority groups have endured and continue to endure hate speech from the mouth of our leader.
There are far too many triggering and painful examples of hate speech from the ruler of the free world. In particular, the hate speech toward women is not only demeaning, but has the possibility to inspire the next generation of men to think speaking that way is OK.
Trump’s words of hate towards BIPOC folks also dictates to America that is acceptable to speak in derogatory slurs. As society has progressed, we have made changes in our diction to respect those who have faced different generational traumas. Trump’s rhetoric sets all this back.
The pressure to fix everything feels like it is in our hands, and the more the election progresses, the less hope I have for the future.
J-School in the Trumpian era
My entire young adult life has been leading up to one thing: graduating from my dream college. I gushed blood, sweat and tears to get into USC and it devastates me that the resources I once yearned for are a pandemic away now.
Due to the lack of dedication to stopping the spread of COVID-19 and the blatant disregard to make masks mandatory, my college experience is now non-existent.
Indeed, I am very privileged for this to be my problem. Many Americans have lost their jobs to this pandemic and there is little hope for anything to get better in the near future. The pain weighs on my soul and the helpless feeling of dread is one more overwhelming reason for why I will not be voting for Trump in November.
I have rage and much of it to summon. I am a 21-year-old adult. This point in my life was supposed to be college parties, football games, reckless fun and spending the majority of my time camping out in my favorite campus cafes studying. Instead, I have to constantly educate myself on each and every Trumpian disaster. Even though staying on top of the disasters is exhausting, it’s important for my education.
I have to vote like my life depends on it, because it does.
The distrust of the media that Trump has instilled in the country has not only caused a spread of misinformation, but a pain for those pursuing degrees in journalism, such as myself. Hearing the constant critique of “I hate the media” does truly deter me and hurt my determination and self-worth.
In a piece by the New Yorker Susan B. Glasser shared what it has felt like as a writer during the Trump administration:
Throughout the past four years, I felt that it was important to maintain the ability to be shocked or surprised at least deeply concerned when Trump violated this or that previously uncrossable line…We are fully exhausted and fully on notice. I have depleted my reserves of shock and awe. I fear there is no more outrage left to summon.
Additionally, the pain in my heart of learning how much work there is to be done for inclusivity and then having to go out and fight to make the world a better and safer place burns me out. I hand out a debt of gratitude to my sisters who broke the glass ceiling for me and I hope I can do everything in my power to make them proud.
I am genuinely grateful for my peers in Annenberg School of Journalism who are dedicated to the same goals. The conversations we have about smashing the patriarchy are comical, but also true. We know the time for white male-dominated newsrooms is outdated.
All in all
Now don’t get me wrong, Joe Biden is not my first choice, nor my second choice. He isn’t even in the top 100. I have to vote for him to save democracy. I don’t like him; I am settling.
Trump is, in the words of former Vice President Joe Biden, “the worst president America has ever had.”
I know that Biden is not the champion of social justice reform my peers and I are in dire need of. Slow progress, however, is better than no progress. It is better than the destruction of America. We are settling for turtle-crossing-the-street progress.
I am settling because he has the most progressive climate change plan in the history of America. I am settling because as a person of color I cannot sit idly by and watch a president refuse to condemn white supremacy.
Biden winning is the difference between life and death for BIPOC voters. Gen Z is scrappy and we are willing to do what it takes. We may be settling for Biden, but it’s because we know he will choose a progressive team within the White House who will hopefully listen to the voices of the underrepresented and oppressed communities in America.
In my experience, the biggest argument against young liberal voters is that we are uneducated. Below are reasons from college graduates and current students on who they are voting for and why.