The Uvalde tragedy
Processing the horror
This week, all eyes were on Uvalde, Texas, where an 18-year-old gunman entered Robb Elementary School and shot up a fourth-grade class, killing 21 people—19 children and two teachers. If reading that sentence made your heart drop into your stomach, imagine how the 3,865 other families of victims have felt since America said ‘never again’ after Sandy Hook.
When the school shooting at Columbine High School took place in 1999, I was a junior in high school, and the news of two kids in trench coats roaming halls with assault rifles killing classmates sent shockwaves across the country. The victims were in my peer group. My friends and I could not begin to understand such a tragedy happening in America, let alone a high school.
Thirteen years later, a gunman would walk into Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Connecticut, and kill 28 people, 20 of them being six- and seven-year-old children. Sandy Hook reignited the gun debate, launching calls for universal background checks as well as the banning of high-capacity magazines and assault weapons. But 3,865 mass shootings later, including the 2018 Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School shooting in Parkland, Florida, and there has been no meaningful gun reform legislation passed.
Like many of you, I, too, have spent the days following Uvalde trying to make sense of a senseless act, hearing gut-wrenching stories about children covering themselves in their friend’s blood and playing dead to avoid being killed, and learning of the delayed reaction of law enforcement as parents waited in anguish, begging police officers to save their children. As the eternal optimist, I want to believe with every fiber of my being that Uvalde will finally be the catalyst for gun reform, and our elected leaders will step up and lead us through this time of crisis. Let’s hold them to it this time. —Mary Anna Mancuso, National Spokeswoman, Renew America Movement
Recount cranks up in Pennsylvania's GOP primary for Senate —Associated Press
‘It’s their obligation’: Michigan boots 19 candidates from Aug. 2 ballots over petition errors, fraud —Michigan Live
Texas state bar files professional misconduct lawsuit against Ken Paxton —The Texas Tribune
Wisconsin Republican elections commissioner abruptly resigns —Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
New York appeals court rules Trump, Ivanka and Don Jr. must sit for depositions —CNN
Less than two weeks after a mass shooting in Buffalo, New York, the entire nation is once again reeling from Tuesday’s school shooting in Uvalde, Texas. Nineteen students and two teachers from Robb Elementary School were killed in their classroom by an 18-year-old with an AR-15 assault rifle who entered the school unimpeded. Here are some of the developments:
Police: Texas gunman was inside the school for more than an hour —Pioneer Press
Uvalde police didn't enter school as ‘they could've been shot’ —Newsweek
Texas officials give updated timeline of Uvalde school shooting —NBC News
Senate GOP signals an openness to talking about gun legislation —The Hill
Abbott calls Texas school shooting a mental health issue but cut state spending for it —NBC News
Gov. Greg Abbott cancels appearance at Houston NRA convention this weekend, will travel to Uvalde instead —Chron
Trump and GOP leaders to speak at NRA event in Houston after Texas school shooting —CNBC
MORE: Lynn Schmidt: These days, even domestic terrorism is swept into election politics —St. Louis Post-Dispatch
Focus on the Jan 6 investigation
Twenty former House Republicans are urging Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy and four other conference members to comply with subpoenas issued by the House select committee investigating the Jan. 6 attack on the U.S. Capitol. “We recognize it is rare for a congressional investigative body to subpoena sitting lawmakers. We also recognize that the subject of this inquiry is unprecedented in American history,” they wrote. “A full and honest accounting of the attack and its causes is critical to preventing future assaults on the rule of law and American institutions—and ensuring that we all can move forward.” Signatories included former congressmen Charles Boustany, Reid Ribble, Scott Rigell, and Joe Walsh. —Politico
Gym (no) class. Rep. Jim Jordan, one of the five Republican members subpoenaed by the committee, has asked the panel to turn over information it has collected on him as he considers how to respond to the compulsory request for his testimony. In a six-page letter, Jordan berated the committee before asking that it “provide all documents, videos, or other material…that you potentially anticipate using, introducing, or relying on during questioning.” —The Hill
Light my fire. Cassidy Hutchinson, who worked under former White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows, testified before the select committee this week. She claimed that Meadows burned papers in his office after meeting with Republican Rep. Scott Perry, who was working to challenge the 2020 election in his home state of Pennsylvania. Hutchinson said she witnessed Meadows incinerate the documents after the encounter. —Politico
Pence moves on. Former Vice President Mike Pence was asked about testimony the Jan. 6 panel heard earlier this week suggesting that Donald Trump expressed support for the idea that Pence should be hanged for not going along with efforts to overturn the results of the election. Pence said he "didn’t know anything about" the reports, but is confident that “we did our job that day under the Constitution and the laws of the United States." He added that he is focused on 2022 and the future, rather than 2020 and the past. —WMUR
MORE: Video released of garage meeting of Proud Boys, Oath Keepers leaders —The Washington Post
Gen Z is up for grabs
By Frandy Rodriguez
Picture this: It’s the start of a basketball game. Two opposing players stride up to the center of the court, anxiously waiting for the referee to toss the ball so they can tip it to their teammates. Anyone can catch it—it’s fair game. But, they’re going to have to find a way to align their paths with the ball's trajectory to succeed. In a similar vein, Gen Z is up for grabs.
Gen Z, defined roughly as those born in 1996 and later, has witnessed several tumultuous events in their young lives. In a post-9/11 world, they have experienced the economic hardships triggered by the Great Recession as well as an unprecedented pandemic, which has induced an economic crisis that has overshadowed their job opportunities and exposed numerous societal inequalities.
To top it all off, most of Gen Z experienced its political awakening during Donald Trump’s presidency. His administration was one swarming with so many scandals and replete with enough drama that it could easily beat Keeping Up with the Kardashians. It seemed like every day there was something new occurring, with tides changing so fast that one could get whiplash from trying to observe it all. It was a very unpresidential presidency, featuring such lowlights as telling Americans to inject themselves with disinfectant, to calling white-nationalist protestors “very fine people,” to trying to overturn the 2020 election.
It’s no wonder that when the 2020 presidential election rolled around, young voters overwhelmingly voted for Joe Biden. The impact of these young voters was decisive in key states across the country. Studies show that more than three-quarters of registered voters ages 18 to 23 disapproved of Trump during his presidency. Taken together, this implies that Trump managed to erode the Republican Party’s position with young voters just as Gen Z joined Millennials to become the largest voting bloc in the electorate—one that is projected to continue outnumbering all previous generations in future elections. This all underscores how young voters, a voting bloc that typically aligns much more closely with progressive, Democratic ideological views, have cemented their place as a crucial part of the electorate, capable of shaping the political landscape of America.
However, this trend doesn’t guarantee the future success of the Democratic Party. A poll conducted by Business Insider revealed that the majority of people ages 13 to 21 do not identify as either conservative or liberal. Further, more than half of this bloc believes that things are “generally going poorly” or “very poorly” in the U.S. In a similar vein, a study conducted by the Harvard Kennedy School indicated that 58 percent of young voters admit that politics has become too partisan.
Gen Z’s contempt for a system that is overwhelmingly partisan is clear, contradicting the popular narrative that this generation is one full of social justice warriors blindly conforming to the traditional, bipartisan political system. Gen Z has political beliefs that they feel neither conservatives nor progressives completely address, adding to their discontent with America’s bipartisan political framework. So while it may be tempting for the general population to view Gen Z as a monolithic group that zealously promotes “wokeism,” such a depiction fails to encapsulate the full spectrum of Gen Z’s political views.
Despite Gen Z’s disillusionment with the current bipartisan political framework, they still see a role for government and are deeply committed to civic engagement. Being a member of Gen Z and speaking with my friends, I know that many of us feel we have to right the wrongs of past generations, given everything we have experienced. In fact, the percentage of young voters who consider themselves politically engaged increased to 31 percent this year, higher than in 2018, when modern midterm turnout records were broken.
Gen Z's political future is unknown. This generation is unimpressed with how both parties have addressed the issues most important to them. Among these issues are climate change, racial equity, economic security, and mental health. Government inaction on climate change and the current pandemic that has exposed and widened inequities in health, race, and the workforce have pushed these issues to the forefront of Gen Z’s political minds.
Gen Z is finding its voice, and if the Republican or Democratic parties want to win Gen Z votes, they're going to have to work harder to gain them. Elected officials and political advocates from both sides of the aisle should listen to young voters and either begin to reform the polarized nature of our government or ultimately reevaluate the two-party system. At the end of the day, the future of the American political landscape rests in the hands of Gen Z.
Frandy Rodriguez is completing an internship at the Renew America Movement. She is a student at Dartmouth College, majoring in government, with minors in public policy and Latin American and Caribbean Studies.
MORE: Depolarizing America: Building consensus step-by-step —Common Ground Committee