How the generational gap in United States politics affects families

Macy Waddle

It’s no secret that in light of recent events many conversations about social and political change have sparked across the nation. 

With health issues like COVID-19, social issues like police brutality and the upcoming presidential election there is a lot to converse about, but also a lot to disagree on.

These debates are not limited to safe spaces; in fact, many occur between classmates, coworkers, friends and even family. 

“With everyone being at home the arguments have become more prevalent and because there is so much going on that also adds to it,” Gia Guralnik (10, YPAS) said.

Some families’ political beliefs align, but others do not. Many of these disagreements occur between different generations, but the question is why?

Credible research organizations such as the Pew Research Center have gathered data about these generational differences and came to many significant conclusions. 

They said, “two younger generations, Millennials and Gen Xers, stand apart from the two older cohorts, Baby Boomers and Silents. And on many issues, Millennials continue to have a distinct – and increasingly liberal – outlook”. 

“They’re [older generations] really old-fashioned, they grew up in a different time,” Guralnik said. 

One of their provided reasons for this is the “increased racial and ethnic diversity” of these younger generational groups. 

The article also addresses specific issues such as LGBTQ relationships, racial equality and religion and explains the generational difference in these areas. This data was collected in 2017-2018. 

Gen-Z was not included in this data due to the fact that most are not adults yet, but RedEye asked them to recount their experiences with the political generation gap. 

“I have slight disagreements with my parents, on certain issues we’re in agreeance but on some other key, more nuanced positions we disagree,” Braden Duncan (12, MST) said. 

However, when it comes to non-immediate family members, these differences in opinion aren’t as small for Duncan. 

“My aunts and uncles are pretty hardcore conservatives, so I have some very significant disagreements with them,” he said. “My grandparents are probably considered traditional democrats, which I have some very serious contentions with.”

The same is true for Emily Githens (10, HSU). Githens explained that she has different political opinions than those of her grandparents and uncles, and these disagreements can often lead to heated conversations. 

“I try to ignore it as best I can, but whenever we all watch the news, we’ll get into debates and I get yelled at sometimes because they’re so strongly opinionated,” she said. 

Githens went on to explain that these debates are “usually stuff about Trump, abortion, the coronavirus, stuff about Biden and the protests.” 

Although conversations become tense, Githens’ grandmother, Kimberly Flood, thinks these conversations make her and her grandaughter closer. 

“Having discussions about political topics gives me a more in-depth insight into how she [Emily] perceives and sees things,” she said. 

Guralnik’s father, Valera Guralnik admits that he gets frustrated, but is understanding that it goes both ways. 

“We get into more verbal fights and disagreements because of it, and it makes me irritated, but I guess it goes the same way with Gia,” he said. 

Many students said they formed their own views outside of those in their family through the internet and friends that they met both in and out of Manual. 

“I wasn’t totally into politics before high school, but being in J&C, learning about these important law cases and reading the news helped me form my own opinion,” Akhila Nadimpalli (12, J&C) said. 

Some draw a line on certain things that can be considered political issues or a human rights issue, which goes beyond more than a difference in political opinion.

“There are certain things that I won’t even consider having points of contention about, things like the validity of members of the LGBTQ+ community and the validity of Black indigenous and people of color,” Duncan said. “With certain aunts and uncles who I know support President Trump, it definitely makes it far less likely for me to let them be apart of my life.” 

Duncan realizes that this is not an option for everyone and says he “doesn’t shame” those who aren’t able to do so. 

“I’m able to distance myself from aunts and uncles and grandparents who political ideologies I find abhorrent only because I have a strong support system from the immediate family and I live a lifestyle that allows me to do so,” he said. 

His advice to those who don’t have the ability to do so is to ensure your safety first. “If your family has created an environment where political disagreements are allowed, or even encouraged, approach everything from a point of love and compassion,” he said.