Like millions of others, I tuned into the GOP presidential debate, and for someone who follows politics, August 23rd was my “Super Bowl.” I was eager to hear fresh insights from new candidates. Yet, my enthusiasm dimmed as I heard remarks spanning from raising the voting age to dismissing candidates as “too young.”

Gen Z and millennials will soon account for nearly half of the voting population in the 2024 presidential elections. Despite this, many debaters on the stage dismissed the concerns that matter most to Gen Z. 

Born in the aftermath of 9/11, navigating elementary school amidst a backdrop of Middle East conflicts, witnessing our families’ struggles during the financial crisis of the 2008 recession while in middle school, and then stepping into the world of high school and college amidst a global pandemic, Gen Z has emerged as one of the most politically active generations.

Gen Z did not witness the coming together after 9/11 or the celebration of winning WWII. We have yet to see a country united. Unfortunately, because of this, many young voters view the future not through rose-tinted glasses but through a lens of pessimism.

More than half of Gen Z believe they won’t ever be able to afford a home. Gen Z is twice as likely to experience feelings of depression and hopelessness. 

Generation Z has made its priorities clear: environmental sustainability, mental health advocacy, and economic stability. 

Conservatives have the solutions, from climate change to economic solutions, but we need candidates who can and will communicate our liberty-based solutions. 

Although Nikki Haley did tackle the climate change issue head-on, we need the other candidates to follow suit.

It’s time for more presidential candidates to take the concerns of Gen Z seriously and present common sense solutions to their problems or risk losing young voters to the radical left, who promise them disastrous “solutions” like the Green New Deal, which have catastrophic impacts. 

As our technology advances, the United States is a global leader in environmental stewardship. A prime example is our carbon capture and storage, which seizes up to 90% of carbon dioxide emissions generated by fossil fuel utilization in industrial operations and vehicle usage. 

Policies that utilize the private sector have greater lasting impacts. For example, the Elk Occupancy Agreement conserved 500 acres of a private elk ranch. Another private sector solution was the Forest Resilience Bonds (FRB), which has utilized $3.1 billion in undeployed funds for forest management projects.

By showcasing the effectiveness of public-private collaborations, conservatives can effectively gain support from voters, especially Gen Z.

Many cite their disregard for Gen Z because only 39% of U.S. adults are “proud to be an American.” Rather than blame Gen Z, give them something new to be proud of and remind them of what America has done domestically and for the world. 

It is not contradictory to acknowledge America’s greatness while advocating for its continuous improvement; in fact, it’s the very essence of progress.

Much like guiding a family member away from a destructive path, our leaders must address our concerns and make known their solutions.

As Gen Z emerges as a potent electoral force, their concerns and aspirations must be acknowledged. Freedom-based solutions and policies are the way forward, but we need our leaders, especially those who aspire to ascend to the highest office in the land, to clearly and effectively communicate them.