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A senior citizen’s urgent entreaty to Generation Z: “Help Defend Democracy!”

Dear Generation Z fellow citizens,

I am an 88-year-old retired public relations professional.

You are members of the latest generation to inherit impressive promise and power   “What Are the Core Characteristics of Generation Z?”

Let’s “chat”.


My objective –

I believe that Americans and citizens of other democratic societies have something in common, something very important – the legacy of democratic freedoms.

That heritage is now under duress in many parts of the world. And so my objective is simple – to ask that you commit to protect that heritage:

Help Defend Democracy .

Many individuals, organizations and institutions are making that commitment, but Generation Z represents an especially powerful potential force for long term  success.


“Why Me?”, you may ask –

In a recent commentary, Can Generation Z Save America? (And Should They Have To?)  John Della Volpe, Director of Polling at the Harvard Kennedy School of Politics made a fulsome case for such demographic action to help save democracy. Excepts:

“A values-based ideological gap that divides Americans by year of birth, mostly nonexistent in 2000, is now a driving force in local and national political contests …If you want to understand what America will be like ten, twenty, thirty years from now, it starts with Generation Z.”

More immediately, it’s estimated that some eight million in the Generation Z demographic, quite adept with social media, will be eligible to vote in the U.S. 2022 election.


Urgency –

(1.) From the International Institute for Democracy and Electoral Assistance, November, 2021: Democracy faces perfect storm as the world become more authoritarian 

“Many democratic governments are backsliding and are adopting authoritarian tactics by restricting free speech and weakening the rule of law …

Overall, the number of countries moving in an authoritarian direction in 2020 outnumbered those going in a democratic direction… this is the time for democracies to be bold, to innovate and revitalize themselves.”

(2.) Attacks on Democracy: Disinformation vs. Truth

“‘Attacks on democracy come in many forms. The most toxic: Authoritarian regimes with populist nationalism and highly-centralized governments. They attack liberal institutions including the free press, fair elections and opposing political parties. Sadly, this form of government has gained favor in recent years ….”(Global Public Relations in the Roiling Twenty Twenties, Page 15 .)    home page.

“Only Truth Can Save Our Democracy”

“The war for truth is now the war to preserve our democracy … It is impossible to maintain a free society when leaders and news purveyors feel at liberty to spread lies without sanction. … We need to hunt for truth, fight for truth and mercilessly discredit the forces of disinformation. It is the freedom battle of our generation.'” – Thomas Friedman, New York Times , November 2020.


Allies, Resources for Defending Democracy  

The “Pro Democracy Bench” is broad and deep. To illustrate its range:

Rock the Vote

“Rock the Vote is a non profit dedicated to building the political power of young people.”

Microsoft Defending Democracy Program

“It is imperative that we protect the integrity of our democratic processes and institutions”. This program features “protecting political campaigns from hacking … protecting democratic elections through secure, verifiable voting.”

However, Generation Z is critical for the sustained, long term commitment for defending democracy.


Democracy, the fragile vessel 

In his trenchant analysis of how democracy has evolved over centuries and across the world — and is still evolving, “The Decline and Rise of Democracy” — David Stasavage offers these seminal insights:

“History suggests that modern democracy is an ongoing experiment, and in many ways, we should be surprised that it has worked at all …

“There need to be continuing investments to see that citizens remain trustful of modern democracy…

“Finally, we need to remember that just because modern democracy survives does not mean that we will be happy with how it performs if the 5,000 dominate over the 5,000,000. Instead of only asking whether democracy will survive, we need to also ask whether we will be satisfied with the democracy that does survive…”


With respect, over to you, Generation Z  

John L. Paluszek, APR, Fellow PRSA

Executive Editor

Business In Society