On track to become the first Gen Zer in Congress, a Florida Democrat hopes to boost his party’s future while remembering his family’s past

The politicians experience love and loss like anyone else, but given her age, Frost’s situation is unusual. He is likely to become the first Gen Z member of Congress after Tuesday’s election, following his victory in the summer primaries in a safe Democratic district. By the time of many members of the House of Representatives – middle age 58.4 years old – are elected, their grandparents are long gone. Frost wanted to rent a motorhome to bring Argibay at the United States Capitol to see it sworn.

“I think of my grandmother a lot in the work that I do,” Frost said. She had little schooling and everyone in his house spoke Spanish when he was growing up because she didn’t understand much English.

“There are so many abuelas, there are so many people who don’t understand political discourse, so how are you going to talk to them?” he said.

It happens that Frost, a Afro-Latino adopted by his family at birth, hopes to teach his fellow Democrats in Congress: the art of messaging. Prone to over-analyze, Democrats often struggle to convey their policies and beliefs as concise as the Republicans. But with the rise of new, younger and more diverse party members like Frost, change may be coming.

The generation born from 1997Gen Z leans progressive and pro-government, according to the Pew Research Center. To hear Frost say it, his generation has more empathy, a deep conviction that we are “all part of this great mosaic of humanity”. His vision is not so specific results as they are on the representation itself, that he will fight for voters because their values ​​align.

“I just hope to bring the heart of an organizer and what I believe is important and how we can bring people together on messaging and how we talk about issues,” he said. said.

Maxwell Frost found work as an Uber driver to help pay his bills.Thomas Simonetti/For the Washington Post

Frost is a potential silver lining for Democrats in tough tenure midpoint election year. It is not the only Gen Z candidate on the ballot for Congress: Karoline Leavitt, 25 years oldis the Republican challenger to Rep. Chris Pappas, a Democrat from New Hampshire, in a competitive race. But Frost has a safer path to victory over the Republican. in his race, Calvin Wimbish, retired Colonel Green Beret, to replace the Democrat Val Demings.

The neighborhood centered around Orlando is a Democratic stronghold in Florida, a state where the party went wrong recent elections. Asked about the problems of the Democrats in the state, Frost pointed out to the success of progressive measures such as the 2020 ballot initiative to increase the $15 state minimum wageand the 2018 gubernatorial race than Republican Ron DeSantis narrowly won.

“I don’t think any state is worth giving up,” Frost said. “Look at Kansas”, where a referendum protect access to abortion easily won this summer. Democrats have to play a long game, he argued, and the work takes years and constant investment.

Far from a newcomer to politics, Frost has been on the scene for a decade after the 2012 Sandy Hook massacre motivated that he gets involved like a teenager. He served as the national organizing director of March For Our Lives, a youth-led anti-gun violence group formed after the 2018 Parkland High School shooting in Florida, and worked on Bernie Sanders’ presidential campaigns.

Still, Frost underestimated how difficult it would be to run for Congress. He quit his job, but his savings soon ran out and he started driving for Uber at night to pay his bills. If he had children or someone who relied on him financially, he said, he should have given up of the race.

“It’s really, really hard to run a federal race if you’re 35 or 45, let alone 25,” said Ray Reed, a 25-year-old Gen Z voter organizer who lost himself. a Democratic congressional primary this year in Missouri. . Frost “has to deal with all the pitfalls of being a youngster while basically managing a million dollar . . . organization.”

The frost has a youthful candor about the flaws of the Democratic Party.

For example, he thinks he is too one-size-fits-all in his message to different demographics. With Latino voters, it’s about immigration, and for black voters, it’s about criminal justice. But those voters also have broader interests, Frost said.

“I think it’s important for Democrats to meet people where they are,” he said. “I think it’s really important that we have this broad message about world-building.”

Maxwell Frost played drums on his campaign float during the Orlando Pride Parade on Oct. 15.GIORGIO VIERA/AFP via Getty Images

Frost realizes he has a lot of eyes on him as the first of an imminent threat generational change in Congress, especially in a party with calcified leadership ranks. But more broadly, he could be among the first of a generation whose leaders are to be looked upon as saviors for a planet in trouble. “Children will save us” has become the phrase oft-repeated by people who have all but given up on issues like climate change and gun violence.

So, does Frost think he and the other members of Gen Z will save the world?

He’s laughing at the question.

“I don’t think it should be up to Gen Z alone to save the world. I think it should be up to all of us. A multi-generational, multi-racial movement, people coming together to fight for the world we believe in” , he said. “Can Gen Z bring a new energy, a fire, a perspective that can perhaps act as a domino effect that helps propel change? Of course, I think so.

Frost’s appeal isn’t limited to his generational peers. One of his country volunteers at pride the parade was Joyce Hernandez, 67, a Democrat who lives in Orlando. “I want to give it a chance,” she said. “I think he will end up doing a lot more than people think.”

As the float made its way through the crowded city center, Frost appeared to be enjoying himself, but later admitted he had been sidetracked throughout the day crying.

He had spent the previous night holding her grandmother’s hand at her parents’ house. Her health had been failing for months, but Frost knew things were different last week, in part because a woman who was usually able to eat a “whole ass branzino” wasn’t eating much.

After the parade, he met an old family friend at his campaign stand at the Pride festival. She took aside to chat quietly, and as they pulled away in an embrace, Frost was eyes full of tears. he wiped his face with his shirt.

Frost said the friend told him his grandmother was really proud of him and wished he had continued his campaign that day. This would have brought his grandmother, says the friend, much “alegría” or joy.


Lissandra Villa Huerta can be contacted at [email protected] Follow her on Twitter @LissandraVilla.

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