Updated Aug 18, 2020 - Axios Events

Watch: Gen Z and the future of politics

DNC week: On Tuesday August 18, Axios politics and White House editor Margaret Talev hosted a conversation on how Gen Z is engaging with politics, featuring Beto O'Rourke, Rep. Will Hurd and 2018 Texas Boys State participant René Otero.

René Otero spoke about his experience in Texas Boys State and views on the current state of politics and the potential Gen Z turnout for the 2020 election.

  • On the influence politicians' conduct has on the public: “It is through our current politicians that we learn our conduct [and] the way politics should function…The individual politician has the responsibility to be a beacon of decency and a delegate to the people.”
  • On Gen Z turnout for the fall election: "I don't think that this election is going to have the turnout that we expect it does if we don't make the active effort to ensure that those in isolated communities can vote."

Rep. Will Hurd discussed his path to public office and highlighted how his professional career has impacted the type of legislation he's helped to write and sponsor.

  • His advice to members of Gen Z: "Being elected office should be something you should aspire to...But the other piece of advice I would give young folks is to go out and have a career before you get into politics."
  • On bipartisanship: "It's not easy trying to to to show a middle way. But it's doable. And in the end, people care about results. And that's what I found. That's why people are frustrated right now — because they're not seeing it."

Beto O'Rourke spoke about Texas' essential role in the upcoming election and how young people lead the way on essential social issues.

  • How Texas has the potential to impact the fall election: "I strongly believe that if Texas [awards its Electoral College votes to the Democratic nominee] the impact on American politics will be seismic. It will once and for all end the Trump presidency and Trump-ism in America."
  • On the power of young people in politics: "Young voter turnout was up 500% in early voting in Texas over the last midterm election. You name an issue, whether it is reproductive choice, climate change, access to health care, fighting back against this pandemic — young people are on the front lines, forcing the conversations and the necessary change that needs to follow."

Axios co-founder and CEO Jim VandeHei hosted a View from the Top segment with
Amanda McBaine and Jesse Moss, the filmmakers of the documentary Boys State, who discussed the filmmaking process and what they learned about politics and the experience of boyhood in America.

  • "One moment where...our heroic character, is asked by a young man: "What's the purpose of a politician?" And he says: "To serve others and not yourself." It's a very simple answer, but it's very profound to and something we think we can all remind ourselves of...There is a desire, even in our hyper-polarized country, to work together to find common ground."

Thank you Apple Original Films & A24 for sponsoring this event.

Go deeper